Prince Andrew was urged to ‘take a break’ from royal duties by one of the Queen’s former advisors yesterday in the light of his ‘disastrous’ television interview.
Speaking to the Mail, her former press secretary Dickie Arbiter, who worked for the monarch during the Charles and Diana crisis, said: ‘It [the interview] was a rotten idea. If it was done as a means of crisis management, then all they have done is manage to create a new crisis.
‘He needs to take a sabbatical. If you look back earlier in the year there was an engagement in Northern Ireland and they cancelled it [because of the scandal]. What charity wants a VIP guest with this hanging over him?
Dickie Arbiter, who worked for the monarch during the Charles and Diana crisis, said: ‘It [the interview] was a rotten idea’
The former royal press officer added: ‘He may argue that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he? Pictured Prince Andrew in the BBC interview
BBC Interview with Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew
‘He is going to turn 60 in February and is wanting to walk his daughter [Princess Beatrice] down the aisle next year. With this hanging over you, it’s going to detract. He needs to take time out.’ Mr Arbiter was referring to an incident in September when it was claimed that an invitation to see a refurbished railway station in Northern Ireland was withdrawn by his hosts as they felt his presence would ‘change the narrative’. It was said the ceremony was one of several engagements to be scrapped.
The former royal press officer added: ‘He may argue that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he? But he is tainted by association. He’s taken Jeffrey Epstein’s largesse, he’s travelled to his homes, his islands, he’s lived in his house. He went over there after Jeffrey Epstein had been released. This will not cut ice with anyone. People believe he is upset because he was caught out, not because he realised it was the wrong thing to have done.
‘He appears to have a case of selective amnesia. He has no recollection of meeting her [Virginia Roberts] but has a vivid recollection of having gone to Pizza Express in Woking.’
Andrew is expected to undertake some official engagements early next week. Sources say they hope his willingness to answer questions will enable him to ‘focus on his work supporting his charities and initiatives’. Respected royal biographer Penny Junor described the interview as ‘just awful’.
She said: ‘He should have been properly briefed. Politicians don’t answer the questions they are asked, they give the answer they want. I fear the answer is that he is just not bright enough. Strangely, I don’t think this is that damaging for the Royal Family because he is far enough removed that people don’t know what he does.
‘He should not have been having that conversation on television, he should have been speaking in a court of law or to the police.’
It has been claimed that a ‘spin doctor’ hired to advise Andrew quit his job at the palace after less than a month after advising him not to go ahead with the Newsnight interview on the grounds that it could backfire.
Jason Stein, a former special adviser to Amber Rudd, was hired in September but is said to have left after disagreements with the prince’s office. Buckingham Palace insist, however, that Mr Stein was never employed by Andrew.
The BBC’s former royal correspondent, Peter Hunt, said: ‘Will Prince Charles have the courage to do what he should do – and tell Prince Andrew to retire from public life on the basis his judgment has been called into question one too many times?