Queen approved ‘car crash’ Prince Andrew interview, insists Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis

The Queen gave her approval for Prince Andrew’s ‘car crash’ interview about the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, says Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

Writing in The Times on Monday, the BBC presenter said the Duke of York told her team he needed the Queen’s permission to give the interview, which was screened on Saturday evening.

Describing the final stages of securing the interview, Ms Maitlis wrote: "We have finished laying out our pitch. An awkward moment of silence falls. And the duke tells us he must 'seek approval from higher up'.

"It dawns on us then that he means the Queen herself. At 8am the next day we have a message telling us to call his office. The Queen, it seems, is on board."

It follows her comments on Friday night’s edition of Newsnight, when she said: “The Duke of York had to find approval from the highest levels. We now understand that was the Queen.”

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis interviews Prince Andrew (Picture: BBC)
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis interviews Prince Andrew (Picture: BBC)

However, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Queen did not give sign-off for the “disastrous” interview – the newspaper said the Queen was only made aware of the interview after it had been arranged.

The BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said the interview showed the Queen had “lost control” of Buckingham Palace.

He said: “They would have advised, if their advice was sought, not to do it. The Queen was informed but she is 93 years old now, and she is not exercising the strong control she had, if she ever did.

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“There is now a lack of strong central control. We have had two episodes within just a couple of months, of senior members of the royal family doing it their way.

“We had Prince Harry with his rant against the tabloid media, which was absolutely against the advice of his communications officials who were in despair over it.

“We have a similar situation now. The mainstream advisers of the Queen at the Palace were not a part of this Prince Andrew debate.”

Prince Andrew has been widely criticised for his comments in the interview (Picture: BBC)
Prince Andrew has been widely criticised for his comments in the interview (Picture: BBC)

Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter, who described the interview as a “car crash”, told the BBC he guessed that the duke “bulldozed his way in and decided he was going to do it himself without any advice”.

Andrew's former spin doctor Jason Stein reportedly left his job at the palace a few weeks ago after advising the duke not to go ahead with the interview.

According to the BBC, sources close to Andrew say he stands by his decision to be interviewed about his involvement with convicted sex offender Epstein, and spoke with “honesty and humility”.

The interview has been widely criticised, with commentators questioning his responses and condemning his unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse for his friendship with Epstein.

Lawyers for some of the 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein have called on Andrew to make a statement to the FBI, which continues to investigate Epstein despite his suicide in jail this summer while facing sex trafficking charges.

Emily Maitlis has said the Queen approved the interview with Prince Andrew (Picture: BBC)
Emily Maitlis says the Queen approved the interview with Prince Andrew (BBC)

Asked in the interview if he would give a statement under oath to investigators, Andrew said: “If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty-bound to do so".

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, has accused Andrew of having sex with her on three occasions, twice while she was underage. He denied all three alleged incidents in the interview, telling Ms Maitlis that at the time of one of them he actually spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre for hearing in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein, who died this month in what a New York City medical examiner ruled a suicide, at Federal Court in New York, U.S., August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Virginia Giuffre (left) has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her on three occasions, twice when she was underage (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

He also said Mrs Giuffre’s description of the incident, which she says began with Andrew sweating heavily as they danced at the London nightclub Tramp, could not be accurate because at the time he had a medical condition that meant he did not sweat.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said Andrew’s interview spoke for itself.

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