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On Saturday, November 16, the BBC aired a recent interview that Prince Andrew gave to Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

Those who missed it can see the 49-minute long interview in full:

The interview did the Queen’s favourite son no favours.

Prince Andrew’s communications secretary Jason Stein even resigned over it, two weeks prior to the broadcast. The Gateway Pundit reports (emphases mine):

Prince Andrew’s publicist has officially resigned over the disastrous interview he did with BBC about his ties to deceased billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Andrew claimed that he was eating pizza on the night in 2001 when he is accused of raping then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts Giuffre. He also made bizarre claims that he doesn’t sweat because of an “adrenaline overdose.”

Jason Stein, 28, was brought on as Prince Andrew’s communications secretary to address the Epstein connections. However, he resigned two weeks before the interview because the royal would not take his advice not to do it. He only held the position for four weeks.

“This will go down as one of the single worst PR moves in recent history,” a source close to Buckingham Palace told the Times.

I agree. I could only watch short clips of it from the BBC’s tweets. Afterwards, I felt distinctly queasy.

Vastly differing opinions between palace and public

The Guardian‘s articles and editorials on the topic reflect public opinion online. Hardly anyone commenting anywhere on this interview supports the prince.

‘Prince Andrew: Calls for royal to say sorry and speak to FBI’ says, in part:

Prince Andrew is facing a transatlantic backlash over his extraordinary defence of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein after lawyers who represent 10 of the billionaire predator’s victims branded the royal unrepentant and implausible and demanded that he speak to the FBI.

After the royal’s defiant Newsnight interview on Saturday triggered a disbelieving reaction from the public and the media, the prince was under growing pressure from critics in the UK and US on Sunday who demanded an apology for his conduct and said that his defence of his actions was simply not credible …

On a day of escalating difficulty for the prince:

Former royal press officers and PR experts described his appearance as “excruciating” and “arrogant”.

It emerged that a key PR adviser brought in to help salvage Andrew’s reputation had left after just weeks in the job and only a fortnight before the interview was broadcast after he advised the prince against it.

The Guardian learned that after filming of the interview concluded, Andrew had been pleased enough with how it had gone that he gave the Newsnight team a tour of Buckingham Palace.

The students’ union at Huddersfield University, where Andrew is chancellor, unanimously backed a motion demanding that he resign from the post.

Sources in the prince’s private office insisted that he stood by the interview and believed he had dealt with the issues with “honesty and humility”.


Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter told the BBC “any sensible-thinking person in the PR business would have thrown their hands up in horror”.

He said that the interview was “not so much a car crash but an articulated lorry crash”.

Meanwhile, businesses and charities were under growing pressure to review their links to the prince and his pitch@palace initiative for entrepreneurs, which stages events at Buckingham Palace and around the world.

Barclays, KMPG, Standard Chartered and the Stelios Foundation are all listed as partners of Pitch@Palace, which links tech entrepreneurs to people who can help their business …

In the charity sector, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) took the step on Twitter of repeatedly responding to questions about “dropping” the prince as a patron by pointing out that his role as patron of its Full Stop campaign, which sought to draw attention to child abuse as an issue, ended in 2009.

Members of the students’ union at the University of Huddersfield will on Monday discuss pushing for him to resign as chancellor after there was unanimous support for a motion stating that they “should not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault”.

The university itself issued a statement pointing to the prince’s previous denial and lauding him for taking a keen interest in its work and describing his “enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship” as “a natural fit”.

How the interview was arranged

Another Guardian article, ‘”He was incredibly gracious after”: Newsnight team say Andrew was pleased with interview’, describes the six months between negotiations and the interview.

It states that Newsnight editor Esme Wren was of the understanding that Prince Andrew’s office was in touch with the Queen:

with Andrew’s team referring the decision up the royal chain of command before finally agreeing to take part. “One assumes that means checking with his mum,” she said.

However, others told the Daily Telegraph a different story:

On Sunday night, … the Daily Telegraph reported a different account, quoting “Palace insiders” who accused the Duke’s private office of “operating in a silo” and said that the Queen was only made aware of the interview after it had been set up – implying that she had no opportunity to veto the plan.

Friends of Jason Stein, who worked as the prince’s press adviser for little more than a fortnight, confirmed that he told Andrew not to do the interview shortly before leaving his position by mutual consent last month.

The Guardian‘s article says that the prince and his team were happy with the interview:

People involved in the recording have told the Guardian that after the recording Andrew was pleased with how it had gone. “I think he appreciated the fact that he’d had plenty of time to say his piece and that there hadn’t been interruptions,” one said. “There was a sense on both sides that there had been a generous amount of time and he had been allowed to speak. He was incredibly gracious afterwards.”

He gave the Newsnight team a tour of Buckingham Palace after filming.

The article says that the public’s disastrous reaction to the broadcast could pose difficulties for the prince’s personal secretary, hired originally to manage his finances:

Andrew’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, is now facing questions over her position after playing a key role in pushing for the interview to take place. Andrew’s team were nervous about how the interview would be perceived, sources said, and they are unlikely to have been reassured by the days of negative coverage that it has created. Others said the general public would appreciate Andrew putting himself up for scrutiny, and his references to a “straightforward shooting weekend” and rare visits to Pizza Express revealed him as he is, without PR sheen.

According to multiple sources with connections to the royal household, Thirsk has always had complete belief in Andrew’s insistence that he is innocent regarding the claims of his involvement with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and sexual impropriety. It is thought she felt the public would come around to his side if they saw the royal explain himself in his own words on television.

A former banker who has worked with Andrew for more than a decade, Thirsk was originally hired to focus on his financial affairs, according to people with knowledge of the household. She worked her way up to the top job of private secretary in 2012, taking responsibility for shaping the prince’s reputation despite not having any background in public relations or media. Former members of the household have talked of being “survivors” of her management style, while also noting her total loyalty to Andrew.

Six months ago, Jeffrey Epstein hadn’t been arrested. The Newsnight interview was originally planned to highlight the prince’s charity work:

Six months ago the programme turned down a proposal to interview Andrew about his charity work, saying they would consider it only if there was no limit to what questions could be asked.

In October, Newsnight‘s editor Wren said the palace contacted her team:

“A couple of weeks ago they said they were ready to do an interview with no subject off the table,” she said. This culminated in despatching the programme’s lead presenter, Emily Maitlis, and a small team to meet Andrew and discuss a plan for the interview.

“Last Monday they went in to the palace to discuss with his team and him what would be in the interview,” Wren said. “He wanted to find out more about Newsnight, really. He said he was going to refer up – one assumes that means checking with his mum – and on Tuesday they said they were going to do it and they wanted to do it quickly.”

The Newsnight team mobilised and worked diligently to make sure everything was above reproach:

Wren, who was not at the recording, said she was aware of the need to ensure all questions were asked, to avoid any perception of Andrew receiving an easy time. “We had to be absolutely resolute that we had to ask him every single question or else we would be deemed to have not done the job. We already had one of our investigative producers working on a brief and had a lot of work in train.”

Throughout the week Maitlis practised her interviewing approach, with Wren playing the role of Andrew in rehearsals. “We spent time drilling the questions back and forth, back and forth. A lot of this was tone and how we’re going to deliver this. Speak normally, don’t turn away.

“They knew what Newsnight stood for, and they knew that no one would say he was let off. They knew that if they do Newsnight, no one will say they were softballed. To our surprise, he did engage with questions and didn’t turn away a single question put to him.”

The BBC broadcast the interview on Saturday because their Children in Need programming interrupted the normal nightly schedule.

Although the public reaction has been negative, Wren says that she received no criticism from the palace:

“I haven’t heard back from the palace,” she said. “I believe they feel we were, as we had promised, fair and forensic and robust. We haven’t heard to the contrary.”

The BBC are not being criticised as much as Prince Andrew is for his demeanour during the interview, which people have called ‘arrogant’, ‘condescending’ and ‘misogynistic’.

More to follow.

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