After repeatedly denying that he had a relationship with one of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged "sex slaves" when she was 17, Britain's Prince Andrew sat down with the BBC to share his memory – or lack thereof – of meeting accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
During the taped interview that aired Saturday, the royal said he has "no recollection" of the photo of him and Giuffre being taken. The picture shows Andrew with his arm around Giuffre at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's alleged "recruiter," who is seen in the background.
Shocking headlines – and pictures – popped up in January 2015 when Giuffre, 35, alleged in court documents that she was groomed by Epstein and his associates to sexually service Epstein's powerful friends when she was a teenager.
She asserted she was compelled to have sex with Andrew three times, in New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and in London, starting when she was 17. At the time, Buckingham Palace issued multiple emphatic statements denying Andrew had any relationship or sexual contact with Giuffre.
"I take very, very few photographs. I am not one to, as it were, hug, and public displays of affection are not something that I do," Andrew told BBC reporter Emily Maitlis. "So that’s the best explanation I can give you and I’m afraid to say that I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested."
USA TODAY has reached out to Giuffre's lawyer for comment.
Andrew suggested the photo could have been doctored, saying he “can’t be certain” whether or not it actually shows his hand on the woman’s side.
“I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph,” he added. “If the original was ever produced, then perhaps we might be able to solve it but I can’t.”
Later in 2015, a federal judge in Florida called Giuffre's claims "immaterial" and irrelevant to the case at issue and threw them out. But when Epstein was arrested this summer and charged with new sex crimes, Giuffre's allegations surged back into headlines. And the palace again issued statements rejecting her claims.
During the interview, Andrew maintained his denial of having sex with Giuffre. He also denied dining and dancing with her in March 2001, saying he was instead at home with his children.
"I was at home, I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon," he said. "And then because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there."
Andrew added that there are “a number of things that are wrong” about Giuffre’s account, including a detail about the royal "profusely sweating" when they allegedly went out dancing.
"There’s a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time and that was ... I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at and I simply ... it was almost impossible for me to sweat," he said.
Andrew also explained his reasoning behind his trip, which he now says he regrets, to visit Epstein in 2010.
"I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do? Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together," he said.
He continued, "I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgment call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it. I had to go and see him and talk to him."
When pressed about why he stayed there days after allegedly breaking up the friendship, Andrew said, "It was a convenient place to stay."
Andrew also confirmed that he has visited Epstein's private plane, private island and Palm Beach home, but insisted he saw "nothing" suspicious.
Contributing: Maria Puente, The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince Andrew denies Jeffrey Epstein accuser claims in BBC interview