Prince Andrew last night dismissed his four-day visit to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s New York ‘house of depravity’ by describing it as a ‘convenient’ place to stay while he broke off their friendship in an ‘honourable’ way.
Speaking for the first time about the 2010 visit to the £60 million Manhattan home – just five months after the financier left jail following his conviction for child sex charges – the Duke of York confirmed he attended a dinner party there on December 2 before his infamous ‘walk in the park’ with the shamed US financier three days later.
He revealed that it was during that stroll through Central Park – captured in a picture that went around the world, haunting him ever since – that he finally broke off their 11-year friendship.
When asked by Emily Maitlis why he stayed with a convicted sex offender, Andrew replied: ‘Ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do?
‘I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.
Speaking for the first time about the 2010 visit to the £60 million Manhattan home – just five months after the financier left jail following his conviction for child sex charges – the Duke of York confirmed he attended a dinner party there on December 2 before his infamous ‘walk in the park’ with the shamed US financier three days later
‘I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgment call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it I had to go and see him and talk to him.’
He said the photograph in the park was taken when he broke the news to Epstein they could no longer be friends.
‘We had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed, which was when I said to him, I said, “Look, because of what has happened I don’t think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact” and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day [in fact it was two days later] and I never had any contact with him from that day forward.’
Incredibly, the Prince cited the reason for breaking off the friendship as the ‘attendant scrutiny’ he was under – rather than the fact Epstein had pleaded guilty and served time for child sex offences.
Andrew said Epstein’s reaction to his decision was ‘understanding’, adding: ‘He didn’t go into any great depth in the conversation… except to say that he’d accepted… a plea bargain, he’d served his time and he was carrying on with his life, if you see what I mean.’
Prince Andrew has previously denied being aware of any of Epstein’s illegal activities. He is pictured above in 2010 answering the door of Epstein’s New York mansion
Incredibly, the Prince cited the reason for breaking off the friendship as the ‘attendant scrutiny’ he was under – rather than the fact Epstein had pleaded guilty and served time for child sex offences
‘And I said, “Yes but I’m afraid to say that’s as maybe but with all the attendant scrutiny on me then I don’t think it’s a wise thing to do.” ’
As The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year, witnesses saw a ‘constant stream’ of young women entering through Epstein’s 15ft-high oak front doors during the time Andrew was staying there between December 2 and December 7, 2010.
We also revealed he was guest of honour at a dinner party in the 21,000 sq ft mansion’s second-floor dining room on December 2 which was attended by a Who’s Who of Manhattan’s media elite.
The guest list included disgraced film director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi, Katie Couric, then the highest-paid female TV anchor in the US, and George Stephanopoulos, a former White House communications director under President Bill Clinton.
Andrew explained: ‘It was a small dinner party, there were only eight or ten of us, I think, at the dinner.’
The Prince claimed the 71st Street mansion – about a mile and a half from the British consulate in New York – was ‘a convenient place to stay’.
He said the photograph in the park was taken when he broke the news to Epstein they could no longer be friends
He added: ‘I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have it was definitely the wrong thing to do.
‘But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.’
The Prince insisted that he was oblivious to the constant stream of young women coming and going during his visit, something that was captured on a video taken at the time and obtained by The Mail on Sunday this summer.
A witness who was there told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There were girls coming and going constantly.
‘It was a particularly cold December and I remember one tiny blonde who came out with Epstein and she stood there cold and shivering. It was chilling to see.
‘When Prince Andrew came to the door to wave one girl off he looked totally at ease.’
Yet the Prince claims the house was so big he was unaware of the ‘revolving door of young girls’ as the witness described it.
Yet the Prince claims the house was so big he was unaware of the ‘revolving door of young girls’ as the witness described it
‘I never saw them,’ he told Ms Maitlis. ‘I mean you have to understand that his house, I described it more as almost a railway station… in the sense there were people coming in and out of that house all the time.
‘What there were doing and why there were there I had nothing to do with.’
When quizzed about why he spent four days on his long goodbye, Andrew responded: ‘The truth of it is that I actually only saw him for about… what? The dinner party, the walk in the park and probably passing in the passage.
‘I could easily have gone and stayed somewhere else but the sheer convenience of being able to get a hold of the man was… I mean, he was in and out all over the place.
‘So getting him in one place for a period of time to actually have a long enough conversation to say, look, there are the reasons why I’m not going to [maintain the friendship] and that happened on the walk.’
After the 2010 visit, the Prince never had any contact with Epstein again.