The prince made the comments in an interview with BBC Two’s Newsnight programme, the first time he has spoken publicly about his friendship with Epstein. The programme is to be broadcast on Saturday night.
When asked by Emily Maitlis why he stayed in the house of a convicted sex offender in a pre-recorded interview, understood to have been the result of six months of negotiations with the royal household, Andrew described it as a “convenient place to stay”. He said: “I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times but at the end of the day with the 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.
“I admit fully my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.”
Prince Andrew said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Virginia Giuffre, the woman who claims to have been coerced into having sex with the royal by Epstein.
He said he regretted remaining friends with the financier after he was found guilty of sexual offences: “I stayed with him and that’s … that’s … that’s the bit that … that … that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”
Maitlis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the interview went into “forensic detail” about the allegations in the press. “I was expecting to be told it’s beneath the BBC to be questioning a senior royal about his sexual history. And to be fair to the Duke of York, we had no comeback, there was no question he didn’t address, there was nothing that was off limit,” she said.
Asking the prince about the alleged sexual encounter that Giuffre alleges took place when she was flown to London on Epstein’s private jet aged just 17, Maitlis said: “She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp nightclub in London. [And that] she went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?”
Andrew replied: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
When asked again if he had any memory of meeting her, he repeated: “No.”
Giuffre has said that while the prince denies the claims, “he knows the truth and I know the truth”. Prince Andrew has been haunted by a picture of him posing with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken at the home of Maxwell.
Buckingham Palace has previously called the allegations “false and without any foundation” and said “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.