In a statement Wednesday, Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said: “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.”
He added: “I continue 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.”
The 59-year-old prince had been criticized for failing to express sympathy for Epstein’s victims in his open-ended, hour-long interview with the BBC that aired Saturday.
In that interview, Andrew also claimed to have “no recollection” of meeting Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, who says she was groomed by Epstein to have sex with Andrew on three occasions. Andrew “categorically” denied having sex with her.
He told the BBC that “if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to have to take some sort of positive action, and so, therefore, if you try to forget, it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action, and I do not remember anything.”
The duke was also asked why he spent four days at Epstein’s home in New York in 2010 — a period after Epstein had been behind bars for two charges of felony prostitution. Andrew said he went to break off the friendship, and Epstein’s home was a “convenient place to stay.”
“At the time I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do,” he said. “And I admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable, but that’s just the way it is.”
Following that 2010 visit, when a photo of Andrew and Epstein strolling in Central Park provoked public furor, Andrew quit as a trade envoy for the United Kingdom.
The relationship received further scrutiny this year after Epstein was arrested in July on sex trafficking charges, after court documents were unsealed in a related defamation case, and after the financier hanged himself in prison in August.
On Wednesday morning, BT, the British telecommunications company, said it would no longer work with the duke’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which enables people to earn digital badges for technical skills they learn.
BT followed a number of other organizations — KPMG, Standard Chartered, Aon, the University of Huddersfield, Outward Bound, the English National Ballet and Bond University in Australia — that suggested they were cutting ties or reviewing their relationship with the embattled prince.
On Tuesday, the “supporters” page on the prince’s flagship initiative, Pitch@Palace, read “page not found.”
The monarchy has endured — and bounced back — from scandal before. The queen memorably dubbed 1992 her “annus horribilis” after Andrew and Sarah Ferguson separated, Prince Charles and Diana’s marital difficulties were plastered across the tabloids and a fire broke out at Windsor Castle.
Still, it’s extraordinarily rare for a senior royal to step back from public duties in this way.
In his Wednesday statement, Andrew struck a very different tone from only a few days earlier, saying of Epstein’s victims: “I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”
He also went further about possibly assisting with an active FBI investigation of Epstein.
“Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,” he said.