Prince Andrew’s effort to put the Jeffrey Epstein scandal behind him may have instead done him irreparable harm.
While aides are trying to put the best face on his widely criticized interview with the BBC, royal watchers are asking whether he can survive the public relations disaster and remain a working member of the royal family.
Full Coverage: Jeffrey Epstein
The question facing Queen Elizabeth II and her advisers is how to protect the historic institution of the monarchy from the taint of a 21st-century sex-and-trafficking scandal and the repeated missteps of a prince who has been a magnet for bad publicity as he struggles to find a national role for himself.
“Prince Andrew, I think, really has to stay out of the limelight for the moment because there really, I think, is no coming back from the damage that was done … at least, not in the near future,” Kate Williams, a royal historian and professor at Reading University, told ITV News.
Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, tried to end years of speculation about his role in the Epstein scandal by granting a no-holds barred interview to Emily Maitlis, the respected presenter of the BBC’s Newsnight program. But the strategy backfired when the prince failed to show empathy for the young women who were exploited by Epstein even as he defended his friendship with the American financier who was a convicted sex offender.
Epstein died Aug. 10 in a New York prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His death has been ruled a suicide by the city’s medical examiner.
Maitlis, writing Monday in the Times of London, said planning for the interview began after Epstein’s death. Andrew’s management team knew they had a problem with the prince’s well-documented ties to Epstein and that previous written statements by the prince denying any involvement by the prince in Epstein’s crimes “perhaps lacked the conviction of a human voice behind them,″ she said.