One year on from Prince Andrew's 'Newsnight' interview: What's happened since he stepped back from royal duties?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·9-min read

Watch: Pressure mounts on Prince Andrew

It has been one year since Prince Andrew’s interview with Newsnight aired on the BBC, as he spoke openly about his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew had intended the interview to clear the air about his dealings with Epstein, who had died in prison in New York while awaiting trial on sex trafficking offences.

But it was a disaster. Andrew’s comments about the relationship – including the fact he did not regret being friends with Epstein – went down terribly with the public and the press.

In the days that followed, the Duke of York was forced to step back from his senior royal duties, admitting that his friendship had caused a distraction from the work of the Royal Family.

He also pledged to help US authorities as they investigated Epstein.

What’s happened since then?

November 2019

BBC Newsnight headed to Buckingham Palace, where Prince Andrew had agreed to give a sit-down interview to Emily Maitlis, about his friendship with Epstein.

In the interview he explained how he met him, and said it would be a stretch to call him a close friend, but added when asked if he regretted the friendship “still not and the reason being is that 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. He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren't that close.

“So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.”

He denied any knowledge of any of Epstein’s alleged crimes.

Andrew also denied knowing or having any recollection of Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sleeping with her on multiple occasions, once after dancing in Tramp nightclub in London.

He continues to deny the allegations made against him, and has not been charged.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre during an interview in New York on August 29, 2019. Giuffre and other victims of Jeffrey Epstein were in New York following an emotional hearing where about two dozen of Epstein's victims spoke about they abuse they suffered. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Virginia Roberts Giuffre in 2019. Giuffre has accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was trafficked. (Miami Herald/Tribune News Service)

The interview aired on 17 November 2019. Three days later, a statement was issued via Buckingham Palace which read: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.

“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

December 2019

All eyes were on the church service in Sandringham on Christmas Day, where Andrew would usually have accompanied his mother and the Royal Family.

But rather than attend the second service of the morning, where the royals greet members of the public, the duke headed to the 9am service with his brother Charles, less in sight of the media.

January 2020

Andrew was knocked out of the royal headlines when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their intentions to step back as senior members of the Royal Family.

The so-called Sandringham Summit was called with Charles, the Queen and William discussing the couple’s future.

Andrew was not party to those discussions, but he did appear to be drawn into a role of supporting his mother. He appeared with her at church in Norfolk for the first service after the deal between the Queen and the Sussexes was revealed.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew, Duke of York attend church at St Mary the Virgin church at Hillington in Sandringham on January 19, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
The Queen and Prince Andrew attend church at St Mary the Virgin church at Hillington in Sandringham in January 2020. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Later that month he is accused of showing “zero co-operation” with the investigation into Epstein. Speaking outside Epstein’s New York mansion, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the FBI had contacted the Duke of York's lawyers and asked to speak to him.

He said: “To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation.”

February 2020

Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday should have been a time for him to receive a military promotion, but he deferred it.

Buckingham Palace said: "By convention, the Duke of York would be in line for military promotion on his 60th birthday.

"Following the decision by His Royal Highness to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, the Duke of York has asked the Ministry of Defence if this promotion might be deferred until such time that His Royal Highness returns to public duty.”

Liverpool Council is the first to decide not to fly the Union flag for his birthday. The Local Government Association says councils can decide how to respond themselves.

His family shared messages on social media as he reached 60.

April 2020

Prince Andrew appeared on an instagram post with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson as the pair packed boxes for Thames hospice residents.

Ferguson’s assistant Antonia Marshall posted the pictures of the pair, who still live together despite being divorced, as they helped the charity during the coronavirus pandemic.

May 2020

Andrew’s financial situation came to light in May when it emerged he was embroiled in a legal dispute over an alleged £6.7m unpaid bill for his Swiss ski chalet.

A spokeswoman for the Duke of York said: “We can confirm there is a dispute between the two parties in this matter. The contractual details remain the subject of a confidentiality agreement and prevent further discussion.”

Ferguson makes a more public show of support for her former husband as she posts a family snap on instagram with their two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

She praises their “united family” on World Family Day.

Watch: Who is Prince Andrew?

June 2020

Sources tell The Sunday Times that Andrew will never return to public duties, though Buckingham Palace doesn’t add anything to the statement made in November.

Andrew found himself embroiled in a war of words with US authorities as he issued a rare and fiery rebuttal to claims from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that he failed to co-operate with their inquiries in the Epstein case.

In a statement, the duke’s lawyers said: “The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ.

“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”

Meanwhile the parents of Harry Dunn, who was killed in a road traffic collision with US citizen Anne Sacoolas, said there should be some sort of swap between Sacoolas and the duke.

Andrew also denied that the Queen will pay off the ski chalet debt.

His charity repaid more than £355,000 after the Charity Commission identified the breach in an investigation.

Andrew’s charitable body allowed the former trustee to work as a director for a fee for three of its subsidiary companies, in breach of rules. The charity had asked to be taken off the register as it wound up.

July 2020

Prince Andrew’s website is taken down, more than eight months after he stepped back from his royal duties.

The prince had his own website, dukeofyork.org, which gave details of his royal work and his family, with pages on his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

However the link is redirected to his profile page on the royal.uk website, which has pages for all working family members.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman told Yahoo UK the contract with the host provider for dukeofyork.org came to an end, and was not renewed.

The continuation of his information on the royal website indicates the duke is still considered a working royal, even though he has not carried out duties for some time.

In the same month he is forced to deny claims that his legal team sought help from a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Trump administration to assist with the fallout of his friendship with a convicted sex offender.

The New York Times alleged Andrew’s lawyers contacted Robert Stryk, who represents people in sensitive diplomatic or legal issues and hired two of Trump’s team after the 2016 election.

A source close to Andrew’s team said: “This looks like a lobby firm advertising. No engagements have been made or sought.”

ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 22:  Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday - Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (far right), the Earl and Countess of Derby. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince Andrew with Ghislaine Maxwell at Ascot. (Tim Graham Photo Library)

Read more: What has Prince Andrew said about his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and a friend of Andrew, was arrested and charged over her alleged links with trafficking girls for the billionaire financier.

Pressure mounted on Andrew to cooperate with the investigation after Maxwell’s arrest.

Acting US attorney for the southern district of New York Audrey Strauss said investigators would “welcome” a statement from Prince Andrew.

“I’m not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC the royal should cooperate with the US.

Andrew’s oldest daughter Princess Beatrice got married in a secret ceremony in Windsor as lockdown restrictions eased. However Andrew did not feature in any of the official photographs, though it was confirmed he was at the wedding and walked his daughter down the aisle.

August 2020

Andrew’s accuser, Guiffre, accused the royal of comparing her to the age of his two daughters when she met him.

Guiffre claimed in a documentary: “Before he abused me, when we just met, Ghislaine does this guessing game and he guessed right, I was 17 and he compared me to his daughters, saying, ‘Oh, my daughters are a few years younger than you’.”

October 2020

The Sunday Times reported Andrew had begun to plot a return to royal duties, intending to start again from 2021 should legal proceedings in the US be resolved.

But the paper reported other royal sources do not believe he had the backing of the royals to return to public life.

November 2020

Sources told the Daily Mail there is very little chance Andrew will ever return to public duties.

The Royal Family’s website still shows a section about the Duke of York, including his statement on stepping back.