Britain’s Prince Andrew is stepping away from his public duties as a result of his past connections to deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew said Wednesday that his association with the convicted sex offender is a “major distraction” to Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, The Associated Press reported. The queen granted him permission to back away, the report noted.
He regrets the association and “deeply sympathizes” with his victims, Andrew said. Epstein was accused of orchestrating a rape ring before he was found dead in his jail cell. (RELATED: Prince Andrew Was Asked About Epstein Murder Theories. Here’s What He Said)
“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein,” the prince said in a statement the royal family published. Andrew added that he hopes Epstein’s victims will be able to “rebuild their lives.”
Andrew denied an Epstein accuser’s claim that she was forced to have sex with the prince. The prince told a reporter in an interview that aired on Nov. 16 that he “can’t” explain a photograph of him with the accuser, because he has “no memory of that photo ever being taken.”
He said during the BBC interview that he doesn’t regret having a friendship with Epstein. “The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful,” Andrew said.
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