Whilst Prince Andrew’s denials that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl who alleges that she was coerced by Epstein into sleeping with men must be taken at face value, his involvement with a billionaire paedophile raises grave questions about his judgement.
He is, after all, a senior royal with decades in the public eye behind him and should have been well aware that public respect for the institution he represents depends on its behaving with probity.
Similar questions of judgement are also raised by his decision to submit to the interview in the first place. He has either been badly advised, or chose to ignore guidance.
The duke did not come across well, seemingly lacking remorse and being insufficiently aware that having any sort of friendship with Epstein – let alone repeatedly accepting his hospitality – should have been completely beyond the pale.
Prince Andrew would have served the Royal Family, and his own reputation, better by maintaining a dignified silence. It is now more likely than not that the answers he gave will prompt further questions into his relationship with a man who took his own life rather than face trial.
It must be remembered that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into Epstein’s activities, and remains to be seen whether the Duke is questioned.
Prince Andrew’s behaviour in this unsavoury affair has undoubtedly harmed the Royal Family, which is deeply regrettable. He acknowledged that he had “let the side down”, which demonstrates at least a degree of self-awareness. The duke would be well advised to try to mitigate the damage by adopting a much lower profile.