The Queen realised Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview was a mistake before he did, Emily Maitlis claims

The late Queen Elizabeth II’s reaction to the Duke of York’s catastrophic BBC Newsnight interview has been revealed in a new Channel 4 documentary.

Prince Andrew was interviewed in 2019 by Emily Maitlis over his links to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. After the programme was broadcast, the duke stepped down from public duties and has remained largely out of the spotlight ever since.

In the new documentary Andrew: The Problem Prince, which will air on Monday 1 May at 9pm, Maitlis and Newsnight producer Sam McAlister recall details surrounding the infamous interview, which took place after Epstein died in jail.

Speaking in the second episode of the new two-part documentary, Maitlis claims that the monarch – who died in September 2022 – realised that the interview was a mistake before the duke did.

She said: “It was only on the Saturday when the Queen had reportedly read the whole transcript that he received a tap on the shoulder by his security detail.

“And they said, I think, ‘Sir, you might have to come with us’. It was after the Queen had seen what the interview contained that I think it dawned on her before it dawned on him.”

At the time of his death, the disgraced financier had been awaiting trial for allegedly recruiting dozens of teenage girls to take part in sexual acts with him and his friends. It emerged that Andrew had a friendship with Epstein. He was accused of sexual abuse by one of the billionaire’s victims, Virginia Giuffre.

The duke vehemently denies all the allegations and maintains that he has never met Giuffre.

During the no-holds-barred Newsnight interview, he told Maitlis that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her and dismissed some of her allegations by claiming he could not sweat, after she claimed he had been “profusely sweating” during their alleged encounter.

Other extraordinary claims that were made by Andrew in the programme included that he could not have had sex with Giuffre on the night he was accused of doing so because he had taken his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to a Pizza Express in Woking.

The royal is interviewed by Emily Maitlis for ‘Newsnight’ (PA)
The royal is interviewed by Emily Maitlis for ‘Newsnight’ (PA)

Previously, Maitlis claimed that the late Queen had given the duke her approval to carry out the interview.

In an article in The Times, she wrote that Andrew told her he would have to “seek approval from higher up” as they were in the final stages of securing the interview. The following day, she said they received confirmation that Her Majesty was “on board”.

Elsewhere in the programme, McAlister revealed that Andrew was accompanied by Beatrice during the final negotiations before the interview.

He recalled: “[Andrew says], ‘I’ve brought someone with me’ and in my head I’m thinking lawyer, because that would have been quite sensible, frankly.

“Instead around the corner comes his daughter, Princess Beatrice. That was really quite a curve ball of curve balls. 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.”

Since 2019, Andrew has been stripped of his military titles, royal patronages and HRH style with “the Queen’s approval and agreement”.


He reached a multi-million pound settlement with Giuffre over the sexual abuse claim in February 2022, including damages to Giuffre and a donation to charity “in support of victims’ rights”. He also said he regretted his association with Epstein.

Last week, his ex-wife, the Duchess of York said that the spotlight needs to “come off” the duke so he can “rebuild” his life.

Sarah Ferguson, who still lives with Andrew in Royal Lodge and remains close to him despite their divorce in 1996, told Good Morning Britain: “With Prince Andrew, he’s such a good man. He’s a kind good man,” she said.

“And I think the spotlight needs to come off him and let him get on with his life to rebuild.”

She added that he is a “very good grandfather” to his grandchildren.