Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, announced on Wednesday he would be taking a leave of absence from public affairs, following a Saturday BBC interview regarding his former friendship with alleged serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“It has become clear to me…that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work,” the Duke of York wrote in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts has alleged Prince Andrew raped her when she was seventeen years old, and that the Duke had participated in an orgy at Epstein’s private Caribbean island. Prince Andrew has denied Roberts’s allegations. But his friendship with the now-deceased Epstein is well-documented.
During the interview with the BBC, the Duke attempted to refute Roberts’s allegations against him and denied ever having contact with her. The results were sometimes bizarre: while Roberts remembers Prince Andrew “profusely sweating” during a joint outing at a nightclub, the Duke denied this was possible because, he asserted, he suffered at that time from a medical condition that prevented him from sweating entirely.
“I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected [by Epstein’s alleged crimes] and wants some form of closure,” the statement continued. “I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”
A royal source told the Sun that the Duke’s relationship with Epstein and the ensuing scandal have become “the biggest royal crisis in a generation.”
Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan jail on August 10, in what authorities ruled was a suicide. Two guards at the facility are under indictment for failing to prevent the incident. Meanwhile, an independent forensic investigator hired by Epstein’s brother concluded the alleged pedophile’s death showed evidence of homicide.