Prince Andrew spoke with “BBC Newsnight” about his friendship with the disgraced financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, reviving a news cycle that had gone relatively quiet.The interview was almost universally panned, being called a “car crash” and “one of the single worst PR moves in recent history.”Businesses are now distancing themselves from the prince, with KPMG cutting its sponsorship of his entrepreneurship charity and at least three other companies considering doing the same.Lawyers, royal experts, and Epstein accusers are also calling on Andrew to testify under oath to the FBI about Epstein.One of the most surprising features of this public self-detonation is that Andrew chose to do the interview.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.Prince Andrew’s reputation is in tatters after the airing of an interview about his friendship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.In the BBC interview, which aired Saturday, Andrew said he “let the side down” over his friendship with Epstein but denied ever meeting Virginia Giuffre, the woman who has said she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17.He was widely criticized as appearing not to sympathize with Epstein’s victims and for relying on alibis such as a meal at Pizza Express and an apparent inability to sweat in an attempt to disprove Giuffre’s claim.The British media described the interview as a “car crash.” A Buckingham Palace source called it “one of the single worst PR moves in recent history,” according to The Times of London. The Duke of York’s press adviser reportedly quit his role shortly before the interview, fearing the blowback.In the days since it aired, the reputational damage from the interview has crystalized into real consequences for Queen Elizabeth II’s second son.Businesses cut ties as Andrew threatens their reputationBusinesses have cut ties with Andrew, who now faces mounting public calls to testify to the FBI in its Epstein investigation.
Andrew in 2012.
The top-tier accounting firm KPMG ended its sponsorship with Pitch@Palace, Andrew’s charity for tech startups and investors, Sky News reported on Monday.KPMG declined to comment on the report. A Buckingham Palace representative told Insider: “KPMG’s sponsorship contract with Pitch@Palace finished at the end of October.”AstraZeneca, a UK-based pharmaceutical company, also said it was reviewing its partnership with Pitch@Palace.”Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed,” the company told Insider in a statement.
Andrew at a Pitch@Palace event.
The insurance company Aon has also requested that its logo be taken off Pitch@Palace’s website.”Aon is not a partner to Pitch@Palace and never has been, which is why we asked for the logo to be removed from the website,” an Aon spokeswoman told Insider in a statement.The charity will continue business as usual, Buckingham Palace insisted. But it will inevitably be under a heavy cloud.The consequences are ironic given Andrew’s apparent motivation to use the interview as a way of pivoting his public profile away from Epstein and back toward entrepreneurship.After filming the interview, Andrew told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis that “next time you come [to Buckingham Palace], we will talk about Pitch@Palace,” according to Maitlis’ account of the day in The Times.
Andrew and his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
In another blow, The Outward Bound Trust, the British outdoor-activity charity of which Andrew is a patron, also confirmed to Insider that it had scheduled a board meeting to reconsider their future relationship.The Duke of York’s Office and Pitch@Palace have not yet responded to Insider’s requests for comment on the businesses distancing themselves from the Duke of York.Andrew suffered another reputational blow on Monday, seemingly prompted by the public-relations disaster of the interview.Rohan Silva, a former UK government official of Sri Lankan descent, accused Andrew of using a racist slur in a meeting and telling him to stop “playing the white man.”Silva, at the time an aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, wrote in the Evening Standard that Andrew told him “with a smile” while discussing international trade: “If you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the n—– in the woodpile.”The prince had also interrupted the meeting, Silva said, to tell the aide: “What you have got to remember, is that you’ll never get anywhere by playing the white man.”Buckingham Palace said Silva’s account was untrue, but the exchange puts Andrew further on the defensive.Epstein victims call for Andrew to cooperate with law enforcementLawyers representing Epstein accusers as well as influential royal commentators have also called on Andrew to submit to an interview with the FBI after his media appearance, Insider’s Mikhaila Friel reported.They included lawyers for Giuffre and Gloria Allred, who is representing five other Epstein accusers.Later Monday, another unnamed Epstein accuser, who says Epstein sexually abused her when she was 15, gave a press conference also calling on Andrew to give a statement under oath, the BBC reported.
Andrew and Virginia Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, along with Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre alleges she was forced to have sex with the prince.
Florida Southern District Court
Buckingham Palace has so far stood by Andrew amid widespread criticism over the BBC Newsnight interview.An unnamed royal source told the Evening Standard newspaper that the prince “has the backing of the Queen and his close family, they believe in him totally and think he has shown strength for telling the truth and admitting errors he has made.”A Buckingham Palace representative declined to comment on reports of the Queen’s support after the interview aired, but told Insider: “The Queen was aware of the interview.”But Andrew’s elder brother, Prince Charles, is most likely “bloody furious” about the interview, The Daily Beast cited an unnamed family friend as saying.Charles “will almost certainly” strip Andrew of his royal duties and responsibilities when he is king, The Beast cited the royal biographer Christopher Andersen as saying.The long-term consequences for Andrew remain unclear. Perhaps he will find a way to recover and salvage some of the relationships that are now under strain.But what is undeniable is that Andrew — of his own free will — put himself back at the center of a damaging news cycle that might otherwise have lain dormant, and set his own reputation on fire.Read more:Watch the disastrous interview Prince Andrew gave about his connection to Epstein and see why the British media is calling it ‘car-crash’ TVPrince Andrew says he couldn’t have had sex with a 17-year-old because he was at a Pizza Express on the day in questionPhotos and video of Prince Andrew at glamorous French Riviera events appear to contradict his claim in BBC interview that he ‘never really partied’Prince Andrew says the picture of him with his hand around Virginia Roberts’ waist might not be real