Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview over allegations relating to Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t just a car crash, but a “ten-car pile-up” that gave an insight into the duke’s personality, royal experts have said.
Andrew’s interview, which was reportedly approved by the Queen, attracted widespread criticism as he appeared to show little sympathy to Epstein’s victims, or any remorse for his own friendship with him.
Duncan Larcombe, former Royal Editor at The Sun, said the royal’s interview with Emily Maitlis would be used in the future to show students how not to do PR.
The royal categorically denies allegations that he slept with Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager.
Speaking on Yahoo UK’s Royal Special, Mr Larcombe said: “The one thing I can tell you with a certain degree of confidence is that in years to come when people go to university to study PR as a subject, lesson one will be replaying that interview with Prince Andrew as how not to do it.
“It was horrendous. It wasn’t a car crash, it was a ten-car pile-up.”
As the Royal family look back on what has been a difficult year - including tension between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over their relationship with the media as well as allegations around Prince Andrew - Larcombe told The Royal Special that the TV interview had portrayed Andrew as aloof and out of touch.
“Prince Andrew was clearly there trying to draw a line under all the allegations levelled at him following Epstein’s death,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
But he said to defend himself for an hour without mentioning the seriousness of the allegations or the victims had made it “painful to watch”.
“A guy who was showing the wold just how aloof, out of touch, self-important and really all those awful characteristics that frankly we all thought Prince Andrew had. He just laid them bare in an interview that was supposed to help his image.”
He said while Andrew could be charming, he wasn’t ‘blessed with the same endearing qualities that other members of his family have been blessed with’.
“I think the danger with Prince Andrew and has been for a long time is who is he associating with,” he added.
“He surrounds himself with the rich and the powerful. He will go, for example, to Switzerland to the Alps to collect an environment award - in a private jet. He will take a helicopter at taxpayer’s expense to go to St Andrew’s and play a round of golf. And then when that’s all exposed in the Royal finances historically, his advisors or spokespeople will dismiss that as ‘well there’s nothing wrong with that’.
“What this has done, this interview, and the fallout from it is finally - I hope for Prince Andrew’s sake - woken him up.”
Fellow royal commentator Omid Scobie said Andrew’s refusal to voice any regret over his friendship with Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell in August, showed: “how out of touch he was and just how much of an empathy chip he is missing”.
He said one explanation could be the “bubble” Andrew was brought up in.
“I think when you’re in an environment where everyone’s saying yes to you and enabling your behaviour and you get to get away with some of the things you mentioned, you do sort of become a law unto yourself.
“And I think that what we saw with Andrew is a guy who really never has had to think about other people before, doesn’t even want to try doing that now, and of course now he’s paying for it.”