Queen approved Andrew’s ‘disastrous’ interview, Emily Maitlis says

The Queen gave her approval for the Duke of York's "disastrous" interview about the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has said.

As calls grew for Andrew to show sympathy for the victims of the convicted sex offender he once knew, he remained defiant about his decision to appear on television.

The BBC has reported sources close to the duke as saying he stands by his decision to set the record straight about his relationship with the disgraced financier – and counter allegations he slept with one of Epstein's groomed teenagers.

Conflicting reports in the newspapers, also based on sources, claim Andrew told the Queen his television appearance on BBC's Newsnight programme was a success, while another says he expressed to friends regret at not mentioning sympathy for the women trafficked for sex by Epstein.

The interview has been widely criticised with commentators questioning his responses and condemning his unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse for the friendship with the sex offender.

Maitlis, whose interview with Andrew was screened on Saturday, writing in the Times newspaper describes the final stages of securing the royal on the current affairs programme.

She writes: "We have finished laying out our pitch. An awkward moment of silence falls. And the duke tells us he must 'seek approval from higher up'.

"It dawns on us then that he means the Queen herself. At 8am the next day we have a message telling us to call his office. The Queen, it seems, is on board."

Lawyers for some of the 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein have called on Andrew to make a statement to the FBI, still investigating Epstein despite his suicide in jail this summer while facing sex trafficking charges.

Andrew was asked in the interview if he would give a statement under oath to investigators, and said: "...if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so".

Lisa Bloom, who is representing a number of the women, told Sky News: "My clients are very disturbed by all of those who were around Jeffrey Epstein who don't seem to get it, even now.

"Even now that dozens and dozens of women have come forward and told these horrific stories. Here was the chance for Prince Andrew to say 'my heart goes out to the women, I am so embarrassed and upset that I was ever associated with this monster...'"

She went on to say: "Instead what we hear is he thinks it was honourable to go to his home after his sex crimes conviction and spend four days there because Jeffrey Epstein could introduce him to people, that makes no sense at all.

"He doesn't seem to have any compassion for the victims, he doesn't seem to have much remorse for his long friendship with Jeffrey Epstein."

During the interview the duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong, the duke said, as he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

Jeffrey Epstein death
The Duke of York in his role as colonel of the Grenadier Guards Jonathan Brady/PA)

He twice stated his relationship with Epstein had provided "seriously beneficial outcomes", giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.

The royal said: "...from the investigations that we've done, you can't prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it's very difficult to be able to prove it but I don't remember that photograph ever being taken."

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Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson (left) with the Duke of York in the parade ring during day four of Royal Ascot 2016, at Ascot Racecourse.
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Princess Beatrice of York (second left) Sarah Ferguson (centre), Princess Eugenie of York (second from right) and Prince Andrew, Duke of York (right) during day four of the 2015 Royal Ascot Meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
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The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew at the finish of the 2010 London Marathon, on the Mall in central London.
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Princess Beatrice, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York arrives for her first day at St George's School in Ascot, Berkshire, with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York.
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The Duke of York celebrating his 40th birthday high above London in one of the gondolas of the Millennium Wheel with his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, with whom he is still very close, and their daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. *The busy birthday is indicative of the Duke, who has said he is convinced that life really does begin at 40.
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The Duke of York with his arm round the Duchess of York with Princess Eugenie, after the Duke joined the Duchess of York and their two children Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier to celebrate his 39th birthday (19/2/99).
The Duke and Duchess of York (who are divorced) with their children Beatrice (r) and Eugenie, during a photocall in Verbier. The Duke, who celebrates his 39th birthday today, is on a sking holiday with his family.
Library file, dated 22/2/97.The Duke and Duchess of York, with their children Princess's Beatrice (right) and Eugenie, and the mother of the Duchess, Susan Barrantes, during a skiing trip in the Swiss resort of Verbier: It was announced today (Sunday) that Susan Barrantes has been killed in a car crash in Argentina. See PA story DEATH Barrantes. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STILLWELL/PA.
The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey, with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (right) and Eugenie, for the Duchess of York's fifth Charity Golf tournament in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. y ROYAL Golf.
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (left) and Eugenie, at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey, for the Duchess of York's fifth charity golf tournament in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The Duke of York with Sarah, Duchess of York,and their daughters Princess Eugenie (left) and Beatrice, during the Pro-Celebrity Golf Tournament at Wentworth today (Monday) to celebrates the 5 anniversary of Children in Crisis. Photo by Andrew Stuart/PA
The Duke and Duchess of York and their children Beatrice and Eugenie arrive at the Pro-Celebrity Golf Tournament at Wentworth today (Monday) to celebrate the 5 anniversary of Children in Crisis. Photo by Andrew Stuart/PA
The Duchess of York with former husband the Duke of York, during a photocall with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (right), nine, and seven-year-old Eugenie in Verbier, Switzerland today (Thursday). PA PIC NEIL MUNNS. See PA Story ROYAL Duchess. 07/03/98: The Princesses could be stripped of their HRH titles in a round of reforms to further modernise the monarchy, announced today (Saturday). The proposals include restricting the style His or Her Royal Highness to senior royals; confirming that bowing and curtseying to royals is not compulsory; and finally closing the door on palace grace-and-favour accommodation. See PA Story ROYAL Reform.
The Duke and Duchess of York and their daughters Princess Beatrice (2nd left) and Eugene arrive at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales today (Sat).
The Duke and Duchess of York were reunited briefly today (Monday) at a charity golf match in aid of motor neurone disease. They posed together for photographers with their daughters the Princesses Beatrice (left) and Eugenie at Wentworth Golf Course in Surrey. Photo by John Stillwell. See PA Story ROYAL York.
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter's Beatrice (right) and Eugenie on the Swiss ski slopes above, the ski resort of Verbier. Photo by John Stillwell/PA.
The Duke and Duchess of York appearing together for the first time sinc etheir decree absolute was finalised. they and their daughters were at wentworth golf club for a charity event for motor neuron disease association.
The Duke of York gives his wife a kiss at Wentworth golf club where he took part in a pro-am golf tournament in aid of motor neuron disease association- of which the Duchess of York is president.
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The Duke and Duchess of York onboard HMS Cambeltown in Portsmouth Harbour prior to a days sailing in the channel with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duke and Duchess of York at Heathrow Airport with their two daughters, Beatrice (in the Duchess's arms) and Eugenie (in the cot). The Duchess flew out to see her stepfather in Argentina, who is diagnosed as having lymphatic cancer.
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The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter Princess Beatrice at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
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The newly-wed Duke and Duchess of York wave as they board the jet at Heathrow Airport, London, carrying them to the Azores for their honeymoon.
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He expressed regret at making contact with Epstein in 2010 – flying to New York to say in person the friendship was over – after the 66-year-old had been released from an 18-month prison term for prostituting minors.

But Maitlis highlighted how he spent a number of days with him at his home, and how he was guest of honour at a dinner party she said celebrated Epstein's release.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that in the wake of the interview, Andrew could find himself out of the core royal family, if reports are correct that the monarchy will be slimmed down when the Prince of Wales becomes king.

Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said about the interview: "I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it.

"It was like watching a man in quick sand and unfortunately, I don't think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out."

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