Prince Andrew is stepping out of the public eye for the “foreseeable future” over his problematic ties to accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York, who’s the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said in a statement released by the royal family Wednesday that he continues to regret his “ill-judged association” with Epstein, which he said has become a “major disruption” to his family’s charitable work. Andrew, 59, had apparently attempted to rehabilitate his image and better explain the relationship in a BBC television interview that aired Saturday, but he was widely criticized for failing to show remorse for Epstein’s dozens of underage victims.
He said the Queen had given him permission to step out of royal duties.
“I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,” he wrote.
Epstein died by suicide in a New York jail cell this past August, where he was being held on allegations that he had abused and trafficked dozens of young girls. Survivors of his abuse have repeatedly claimed that the financier “loaned” them out to other wealthy power brokers, and Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s more vocal survivors, alleged that Epstein facilitated her abuse by Prince Andrew. Giuffre said she had sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was a teenager, and there are photos of Giuffre and Andrew together that year. Andrew denies having had sex with her, and said in the BBC interview that the photo may be a fake.
Andrew previously stepped down from his role as U.K. trade envoy in 2011, around the same time he was accused of still being friends with Epstein, who was at that point a registered sex offender. The two were photographed walking together in New York City’s Central Park in 2010, and Andrew’s former wife, Sarah Ferguson, once received an $18,000 gift from Epstein to pay her debts.
Andrew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or knowing about Epstein’s inappropriate behavior. The two had known each other for 20 years and remained friends after Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges and was accused of trafficking underage girls in 2008.
Cover: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew The Duke of York and Princess Beatrice of York, at Crathie Kirk for Sunday Church Service at Balmoral, Ballater, Scotland during Her Majesty's third week of summer break. Photo by: zz/KGC-492/STAR MAX/IPx Aug. 11, 2019
This article originally appeared on VICE US.