Prince Andrew to 'step back' from public duties over Jeffrey Epstein relationship

Following a disastrous interview with the BBC about his relationship with the late Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew revealed on Wednesday he’s asked the Queen Elizabeth if he can “step back” from his public duties.

“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” the statement posted to the royal family’s Twitter account reads in part.

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“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”

The statement concludes: "I continued to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

Andrew, 59, was interviewed by BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis on Thursday about his involvement with Epstein, a sit-down many agree was a total public relations disaster for the Duke of York.

'I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.'

— Prince Andrew

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Many in the media were quick to deride Prince Andrew for not only defending his friendship with Epstein but for failing to show empathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims.

Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, has said Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17. She says Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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"It didn't happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," the Duke of York said in his interview.

Giuffre had recently challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters in New York “he knows exactly what he’s done.”

“And the answer is nothing,” Andrew told the BBC.

Prince Andrew, right, is dealing with harsh backlash from critics and media personalities over an interview about his relationship with now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the numerous sexual assault allegations against the British royal.

Prince Andrew, right, is dealing with harsh backlash from critics and media personalities over an interview about his relationship with now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the numerous sexual assault allegations against the British royal. (Getty)

Prince Andrew admitted: "I kick myself ... on a daily basis” for being friends with and staying with Epstein on multiple occasions

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“I stayed with him and that’s [something] I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,” the second son of Queen Elizabeth said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Prince Andrew admitted that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of the people he met and all the things he learned, another statement for which he was chastised by the media.

Epstein, 66, died in jail on Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that prosecutors alleged involved many girls over several years in the early 2000s.

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Andrew’s decision to grant an interview that went into forensic detail about his well-documented ties to a sex offender was a high-stakes gamble in a country where royals traditionally don’t submit to such questioning. When royals speak at all, they usually offer carefully considered comments about charitable works.

Fox News' Frank Miles and Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.