The Duke of York sought permission from the Queen to be questioned about his association with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, TV presenter Emily Maitlis has claimed.
Prince Andrew came under intense scrutiny following his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview in 2019 over allegations that Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre was trafficked to have sex with the royal when she was 17.
In a new two-part Channel 4 documentary, Andrew – The Problem Prince, former BBC journalist Ms Maitlis said the negative implications of the interview “dawned” on the Queen “before they dawned on him”.
Following the BBC broadcast in November 2019 and the furore over Prince Andrew’s friendship with Epstein, the duke stepped down from public life.
Last year, he reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre reportedly worth up to 12 million US dollars (£9.6 million) following her civil sex claim against him in the US.
He continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Epstein was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.
Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, told the documentary that the Newsnight interview gave her client the “roadmap to tear him apart” in the civil claim.
Despite the BBC interview eventually leading to Andrew being stripped of his patronages and military affiliations, former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister claimed the royal was “euphoric” afterwards because “he thought it had gone really well”.
Ms Maitlis told the Channel 4 documentary that people came into the room afterwards to invite her to a “cinema night at the Palace”.
“A whole load of people came in and I said ‘What’s going on?’” she said.
“They said ‘OK, Thursday evenings we have the cinema night at the Palace. You can stay if you want’.
“At that point, I just thought ‘I’ve got to get away from here’. I needed the space to work out what just happened.”
During the original Newsnight broadcast around four years ago, the duke denied he had had sex with Ms Giuffre, said he had no recollection of ever meeting her and that he had spent the day in question at Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey, at a party with one of his daughters.
Ms Giuffre said Andrew sweated heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp in one alleged encounter.
The duke told Maitlis his Falklands War service had caused a medical condition, at the time, which meant he did not sweat.
The infamous interview is also being adapted by Netflix, with Sex Education star Gillian Anderson playing Ms Maitlis and The Man In The High Castle actor Rufus Sewell as Andrew.
Ms McAlister revealed to the Channel 4 documentary that the duke had taken his daughter, Princess Beatrice, with him to the final negotiations with the BBC over what should be included in the interview.
“Can you imagine being in Buckingham Palace, about to talk to a member of the royal family about sexual offences? That’s pretty tricky – and now I’ve got to do it in front of his daughter,” the producer said.
During the negotiations, Ms McAlister and Ms Maitlis said Andrew had asked “Should I tell you why I can’t sweat?” as he sought to explain why Ms Giuffre’s allegations against him were false.
“I remember thinking ‘Wow, you know, if he says that, that’s it…’” Ms Maitlis told the documentary.
Before going ahead with the interview, the presenter said Andrew had told her he had to “seek approval from higher up”.
She said: “Of course, he’s talking about the Queen.
“You’re asking your mum if it’s a good idea. This is a decision that’s going right to the top.”
During the documentary, the former BBC journalist said Newsnight had turned down an interview with Andrew three times due to his team attempting to place editorial restrictions on them.
“Epstein was a red line and we were not to ask about him if we did the interview,” Ms McAlister said of one of her initial negotiations with the duke’s chief of staff.
Commenting on Newsnight’s earlier decision not to go ahead with an interview after the Epstein restrictions were imposed, Ms Maitlis said: “Thank God we dropped the whole thing.
“Because how stupid would we have looked to have done that whole interview knowing that we couldn’t ask about Epstein only to find that he was suddenly front-page news?”
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