LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Prince Andrew is denying that he had sex with an underage girl who says she was forced to do so by the late Jeffrey Epstein. In a rare interview with the BBC, Britain's Duke of York, as he's known, did say he regretted spending time at Epstein's Manhattan house after Epstein had served time in prison for child sex offenses.
For more, we are - we turn now to NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. Hi, Frank.
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. So remind us what exactly Andrew is accused of and when this is alleged to have happened.
LANGFITT: Well, the prince and Jeffrey Epstein were friends, and these accusations go back about 18 years. The woman, Virginia Giuffre - she says that in 2001, back when she was 17, Epstein's girlfriend told her to sleep with the prince, as she had indeed done before with Epstein, she says. And she says she was then forced also to have sex with the prince at Epstein's house in Manhattan and, later on, Epstein's private island in the Caribbean.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And there's been a lot of scrutiny of this - right? - over time.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how did the prince respond in last night's interview?
LANGFITT: Well, this was the first time he's ever actually spoken about it, and it was absolute denial. He said he doesn't remember ever meeting this woman. Giuffre had a very specific memory of the night that they went out in London to - she named the club. It's called Tramp, a members-only nightclub in London. The prince says he actually was taking his daughter out to Pizza Express for a party that night in suburban London, so it couldn't have happened.
But Giuffre has a picture of herself and the prince allegedly on that evening, and it was shown to the prince. He's seen it before. And BBC's Emily Maitlis asked him about it in last night's interview. This is how the exchange went.
(SOUNDBITE OF BBC RECORDING)
EMILY MAITLIS: She was a 17-year-old girl meeting a senior member of the royal family.
ANDREW: Never happened.
MAITLIS: She provided a photo of the two of you together.
MAITLIS: Your arm was around her waist.
MAITLIS: You've seen the photo.
ANDREW: I've seen the photograph.
MAITLIS: How do you explain that?
ANDREW: I can't because I don't - I have no - again, I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how did he explain, then, staying with Epstein after Epstein had served time for child sex offenses? At the time, Andrew and Epstein were even photographed together walking in Central Park.
LANGFITT: Yeah, this is a very hard one to explain. This was back in 2010. The Prince said he went to New York, actually, to end the friendship. And pressed by the interviewer last night, this is how explained himself.
(SOUNDBITE OF BBC RECORDING)
ANDREW: It was a convenient place to stay. There - I mean, I've gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight that one could have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time, I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do.
LANGFITT: And Lulu, what he says is he didn't feel that he should end this friendship over the phone. It was the honorable thing to tell him in person. And his major mistake here - his judgment colored by his tendency, he says, to just be too honorable.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How have people responded there in the U.K., just briefly?
LANGFITT: Not well. On Twitter, right after this came out - this interview - there were - people were posting GIFs of car crashes. The headline this morning was "Not One Word Of Remorse." There was a feeling that, at least, he should have come out and expressed a lot of sympathy for Epstein's victims. That never quite happened.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Frank Langfitt in London. Frank, thanks so much.
LANGFITT: You're very welcome, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.