Prince Andrew “bulldozed his way” into a BBC interview which did more damage than good, according to Royal commentator Dickie Arbiter.
The ex-Buckingham Palace press officer queried why the prince decided to answer questions about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The prince said the fallout over Epstein’s arrest had been “a constant sore” in the Royal Family.
A lawyer for Epstein’s accusers urged the prince to talk to US authorities.
The prince’s decision to speak so candidly about his relationship with Epstein – who died in prison after he was charged with sex trafficking – and answer allegations about sex with a teenage girl was questioned by a number of royal experts.
Mr Arbiter described the interview as “excruciating”.
For several months the Duke of York had been facing questions over his ties to Epstein – an American financier who, at the age of 66, took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Prince Andrew “categorically” denied having an sexual contact with Virginia Giuffre, who claimed she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions when she was a teenager.
The first occasion, she said, took place when she was aged 17.
Asked about the prince’s decision to be interviewed by BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, Mr Arbiter said he thought a lot of questions would be asked in Buckingham Palace.
He said: “They will be wondering: was this the right decision? Was the right decision made? Who made the decision to put him on? Did he make it himself or did he seek advice within the palace?
“My guess is that he bulldozed his way in and decided he was going to do it himself without any advice.
“Any sensible-thinking person in the PR business would have thrown their hands up in horror at the very suggestion that he puts himself up in front of a television camera to explain away his actions and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.”
Mr Arbiter said he believed the interview would have an impact on the Duke of York’s relationships with various charities.
‘Sign of arrogance’
Other royal experts also questioned the prince’s decision to speak so publicly about his relationship with Epstein.
Royal biographer Angela Levin said she was gripped by the interview but felt it was “ill-judged” to offer insights into his life with Epstein.
“Unfortunately it was a sign of his arrogance,” she said. “He has always been arrogant.
“The Queen’s motto is don’t complain don’t explain. I think in her heart she will be extremely embarrassed.
“I know for a fact Prince Andrew does not listen to his advisers.
“A very senior member of the press team left suddenly two weeks ago and the implication is he would not have approved of what Prince Andrew did.”
Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond said the interview reminded her of one Princess Diana gave to Panorama in 1995 where she “spilled her soul”.
Mrs Bond added that Princes Andrew’s lack of remorse in his interview was a “glaring hole”.
‘Prince or pauper’
Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the young women abused by Epstein said “there is so much truth that is yet to be revealed”.
She added: “The charges made by Ms Roberts, whom I do not represent but she is one of the accusers, against Prince Andrew are very, very serious charges.
“Whether you are a prince or a pauper, if anyone has evidence or information that might be relevant to an investigation of a criminal case that person should provide it.”
- On the date Virginia Giuffre says he had sex with her – 10 March, 2001, he had taken his daughter to Pizza Express in Woking for a party before spending the night at home
- He dismissed claims he was sweating profusely because he had a “peculiar medical condition” meaning he cannot sweat, caused by an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War
- He had commissioned investigations into whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre had been faked, but they were inconclusive
- Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him
- He would testify under oath about his relationship with Ms Giuffre if “push came to shove”, and his lawyers advised him to
- He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited the financier to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
- He did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business
BBC’s Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell
The interview has been heard and Prince Andrew’s answers have been noted with incredulity in some quarters.
The reaction to his words in most cases has been negative and the consensus, in PR terms, is that the interview was extremely ill-advised.
There is a feeling of weary resignation from those who know of Prince Andrew as it was supposed to be an interview for which a line could be drawn under the story for the Duke of York and allow him to move on.
That moment is certainly some way off.