In a statement, Andrew said he wanted to “clarify the facts to avoid further speculation” following the intense interest in his association with Epstein.
“At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction,” he said.
Andrew’s friendship with Epstein has come under renewed scrutiny since court documents were unsealed earlier this month in a related defamation case. In the documents, a minor accused the prince of having sex with her on three occasions and later receiving money from Epstein for those encounters.
Buckingham Palace has released a number of statements denying that Andrew did anything wrong, but this latest one is the most detailed yet. Questions about the prince’s connections with Epstein have been around for years, but the palace may hope that with this latest pronouncement a line can finally be drawn under an old scandal that seemingly will not go away.
In the statement, Andrew said he met Epstein in 1999 and saw him “infrequently,” saying that meant “probably no more than only once or twice a year.” He added that he had “stayed in a number of his residences.”
Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday newspaper published video footage of Andrew inside Epstein’s New York home, peering out from behind a large door and waving goodbye to a young woman. That footage was filmed in 2010, when Epstein was a registered sex offender.
Andrew, the queen’s second son and eighth in line to the throne, said of Epstein in the statement that it was a “mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.”
Andrew added, “I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour. His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.”
The prince also said: “This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein's lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”