Queen Elizabeth did not give her approval for the Duke of York’s ‘Newsnight’ interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ has learned.
Palace insiders last night accused Prince Andrew’s private office of “operating in a silo” as it emerged the queen was only made aware of the prime-time BBC interrogation by Emily Maitlis after it had been set up.
Rather than ending speculation about the duke’s behaviour, the hour-long programme revived the controversy and generated fresh questions about his movements and “alibis” he gave.
Serious questions were being asked at the Palace about why Andrew had been exposed to a no-holds-barred interview without any preconditions attached.
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It left him having to answer repeated questions about whether he had ever had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an Epstein sex slave, when she was 17, or with other young girls.
One former senior courtier described the interview as “excruciating” while others said it was a “car crash”, but sources close to the duke said he stood by his decision and claimed he had answered with “honesty and humility”.
Evidence emerged yesterday that conflicted with his explanation for why Ms Giuffre’s claims of sex with him were wrong. In particular, his suggestion that a photograph of him with his arm around her waist could have been faked because he never wore casual clothes in London was undermined by pictures of him wearing a near-identical outfit on a night out in the capital.
Royal insiders left little doubt yesterday about the level of anger among Palace staff at the duke’s decision to grant the BBC interview, and about the advice he was given.
One royal source said: “The statement Buckingham Palace issued said the queen was aware of the interview but not that she approved it. It’s extraordinary how this has unfolded, without any real consultation with the Palace press office or queen’s private office. It does seem as if the Duke of York’s private office is operating in a silo, which is really quite dangerous because there is a lack of accountability there. Internally, this is being seen as a f**k-up.”
One royal adviser said: “This interview was completely unprecedented in offering a royal up for one hour on one subject without any questions being off limits.
“Ordinarily you would say to the BBC, ‘He’ll talk about X for 10 minutes but he won’t talk about Y or Z’.”
The Duke said in the interview that he had “let the side down” but failed to express any remorse for his friendship with Epstein.
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