Dickie Arbiter speaks about Prince Andrew on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today
The Queen will be asking her son Prince Andrew about what really happened over the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, one of her former advisers said today.
Dickie Arbiter said the Queen will have private conversations with the Duke of York over the ‘serious issue’ but does not think she is ‘getting the answers’.
Mr Arbiter, the monarch’s former press secretary who worked for her during the Charles and Diana crisis, admitted that the Queen has had a ‘rough time’.
The 79-year-old told ITV’s Good Morning Britain today: ‘We’ve got to look at the Queen as two people. She’s Queen, Head of State, but she’s also a mother.
‘And she will be looking at her son, and will be asking did this really happen, in a private conversation. She has to put on a brave face in public.
‘She has to be collegiate in public, but in private, she will really want to know from Andrew what is going on. And I don’t think she’s getting the answers.’
(From left) ITV presenters Charlotte Hawkins, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid discuss the royal scandal with Mr Arbiter and media lawyer Mark Stephens on Good Morning Britain today
Mr Arbiter told ITV it is a ‘serious issue’, but the Queen ‘has to put on a brave face in public’
It comes as lawyers for the convicted sex offender’s victims urged Andrew to tell US authorities what he knows, following his BBC interview on Saturday.
Andrew is facing the embarrassing prospect of charities and institutions he is associated with distancing themselves from him after the Newsnight programme.
Mr Arbiter said: ‘It is a serious issue. He was friends with a convicted paedophile. He went over there, as he said, he was doing the honourable thing to break off a friendship.
‘Well, if you know somebody who is a convicted paedophile, you would keep within a million miles. He claimed he didn’t know what was going on.
‘He also claimed that Epstein’s house was a bit like a railway station.
‘Well, if it’s a bit like a railway station and you see all these underage ladies walking through, aren’t you going to ask questions, aren’t you going to wonder why they are all there?’
Asked what could happen next, he added: ‘In private life you send them on gardening leave, and I think with Prince Andrew it’s a sabbatical, and until this is resolved, he really does need to step back.’
Earlier this week, Mr Arbiter told the Mail that Andrew should ‘take a break’ from royal duties in the light of his ‘disastrous’ television interview.
He said: ‘It [the interview] was a rotten idea. If it was done as a means of crisis management, then all they have done is manage to create a new crisis.
‘He needs to take a sabbatical. If you look back earlier in the year there was an engagement in Northern Ireland and they cancelled it [because of the scandal].
‘What charity wants a VIP guest with this hanging over him? He is going to turn 60 in February and is wanting to walk his daughter [Princess Beatrice] down the aisle next year. With this hanging over you, it’s going to detract. He needs to take time out.’
Mr Arbiter was referring to an incident in September when it was claimed that an invitation to see a refurbished railway station in Northern Ireland was withdrawn by his hosts as they felt his presence would ‘change the narrative’.
It was said the ceremony was one of several engagements to be scrapped.
The former royal press officer added: ‘He may argue that he has done nothing wrong, so why should he? But he is tainted by association.
‘He’s taken Jeffrey Epstein’s largesse, he’s travelled to his homes, his islands, he’s lived in his house. He went over there after Jeffrey Epstein had been released.
‘This will not cut ice with anyone. People believe he is upset because he was caught out, not because he realised it was the wrong thing to have done.
‘He appears to have a case of selective amnesia. He has no recollection of meeting her [Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre] but has a vivid recollection of having gone to Pizza Express in Woking.’
Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre (right), pictured aged 17 with Andrew in London in 2001
Royal correspondent Peter Hunt has also said the interview will cause problems for the Queen, adding that Buckingham Palace will now be launching ‘Operation Protect The Queen’
He told LBC radio today: ‘This interview was his attempt to convince us a) that he didn’t have sex with this woman Virginia Roberts three times, he said that three times in this interview. But also more importantly for us, the public, to forgive him for yet another lacks of judgement.
‘The evidence is from Emily Maitlis, the interviewer, who has said twice now that this went ‘higher up’. When Prince Andrew talks about ‘higher up’, he’s not talking about the Queen’s Private Secretary or the Master of the Household. He’s talking about his mother, The Queen.
‘That’s important, because that shows that her judgement is also being questioned for allowing her residence, Buckingham Palace, to be used for this.
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein are pictured together in New York’s Central Park in 2011
‘I suspect today, we will see coming out of Buckingham Palace what will be Operation Protect The Queen. I suspect there will be briefings suggesting that she didn’t [know]. But I think that’s shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.’
The Duke faced further controversy when a newspaper columnist claimed Andrew used a racially-offensive word during a Buckingham Palace meeting in 2012.
The Queen and other senior royals are said to ‘back and believe’ Andrew’s defence of himself in the BBC interview ‘100 per cent’, sources told the Evening Standard.
One alleged Epstein victim gave an emotional account of her ordeal as she launched a civil lawsuit against the sex offender’s estate and made a direct appeal to the duke after her lawyer, Gloria Allred, called on him to make a statement.
The 31-year-old – known only as Jane Doe 15 – said: ‘I would also like to say I agree with Gloria that Prince Andrew, and any others that are close to Epstein, should come forward and give a statement under oath on what information they have.’