He ruined everything with his own mouth… Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview is back in the headlines after years! ‘Shall I tell you why I can’t sweat?
The British Royal Family has seen many scandals, but none as loud as the accusations of sexual abuse against Prince Andrew. In 2019, in an interview with the BBC, the prince was very content, even cheerful, as he prepared his own demise. The only person who saw the impending disaster was the late Queen Elizabeth. The background of that mind-blowing interview was revealed in a documentary. Here is the truth about that famous interview with incredible details…
The interview given by Prince Andrew, the favorite son of the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, to the BBC’s Newsnight program in 2019 was recorded as one of the most mind-blowing television performances of recent years.
In this interview, Prince Andrew tried to convince the public that the accusations of sexual misconduct against him could not be true, citing bizarre excuses such as his “inability to sweat” and his “tendency to be too dignified”.
The Prince’s accuser was Virginia Giuffre, a victim of fellow financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was tried and convicted of pedophilia. Giuffre, whom Epstein had taken from the US to the UK (her last name was Roberts at the time), testified under oath in 2015 that she had met and had sex with the Prince in London, and that she was 17 at the time. So the charges against Prince Andrew were very serious.
At some point, the Prince decided to go on camera and defend himself. However, his stance and statements on the program were so bizarre that even those who believed in his innocence became skeptical after the program aired. Social media was full of angry posts mocking the Prince.
SECOND INTERVIEW AFTER 30 YEARS
So how did one of the most senior members of the Royal Family give such an interview?
The 2-part documentary “Andrew: The Problem Prince”, which will air on Channel 4 on May 1 and 8, seeks to answer this question and reveals the background to the Newsnight interview.
The documentary, which made headlines in the UK press even before its release, opens with another interview Andrew gave to Selina Scott in 1985.
At the time, the Prince was being hailed for his good looks and flirtatious behavior, and cherished as a hero of the Falklands War who had sacrificed his life for his country. When Scott mentioned the Prince’s nickname ‘Randy Andy’ (Horny Andy) in a question, Andrew shrugged off the question with a smile and a shrug, receiving a supportive cheer from the audience.
James Goldston, former director of ABC News, where the interview was broadcast and one of the producers of “Andrew: The Problem Prince”, said in the documentary, “At the time it was a badge of honor. It was seen as something to be admired that this young prince was destroying the aristocratic women of London one by one. At the time, the question ‘Is there an ethical or moral problem here?’ was not even debated.”
WHEN EPSTEIN DIED, THE BALANCE SHIFTED
And 34 years later… According to the documentary, Sam McAlister, guest coordinator of the Newsnight program, received an email from the public relations company representing Prince Andrew. The email asked if they would be interested in interviewing the Prince about his charity work.
McAlister was not interested in an interview that would flatter the Prince. He therefore replied in the negative. Negotiations went on for months, the scope of the interview was expanded. But Buckingham Palace had only one condition: The Prince did not want to face questions about Jeffrey Epstein. McAlister informed his interlocutor that the interview could not take place under these conditions either.
But everything changed when Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in New York. Until then, Epstein had not been on the British agenda. After his death, however, he made headlines and his friendship with the Prince came under scrutiny.
As a result, Andrew’s PR team had to change tack. McAlister couldn’t believe how lucky he was that the Prince had somehow managed to get permission from the Queen before the interview.
PRINCE ANDREW HAD HIS OWN WAY
Speaking in the documentary, media lawyer Paul Tweed said he warned the Prince that the interview was a “bad idea”.
Tweed, who is also a friend of Andrew’s, said he spoke to the Prince two days before the filming and said, “I said to him, ‘Sir, look, this is not a good idea,’ because remember that at that stage there was still the possibility of him going to court and clearing his name.”
Tweed also stated that Amanda Thirsk, the Prince’s chief of staff, called him and informed him that the Prince had decided to do the interview and said, “‘No way, no way, no way. It’s a very bad idea. Don’t do it,’ but Amanda said, ‘Paul, I have to go,’ and hung up the phone abruptly. I was thinking, ‘Somebody’s going to stop this,’ but the Duke had made up his mind to go on the program one way or another. Against the advice of many people, he did his own thing.”
“SHALL I TELL YOU WHY I CAN’T SWEAT?”
This is where the awkwardness began. Andrew had gone to meet the producers of Newsnight with his daughter Beatrice. “Shall I tell you why I can’t sweat?” he asked the journalists, according to the documentary’s host Emily Maitlis.
As part of his accusations, Giuffre stated that he had seen the Prince in a nightclub, that they had danced together and that the Prince was drenched in sweat. The Prince, on the other hand, argued that he had completely lost the ability to sweat due to a health problem he had suffered during the Falklands War, and that he thought he could prove that Giuffre’s allegations could not be true.
“When the Prince said that, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, if he says that, it’s over,'” Maitlis said.
THE BBC TEAM COULDN’T BELIEVE THE PRINCE’S JOY
Maitlis explained that he was also very nervous before the shoot and hid in the toilet for minutes to recover. “I was afraid that he wouldn’t want to talk about what we had agreed on,” said Maitlis, adding that he was even more upset when Andrew entered the shooting room before him.
However, adding that he was relieved when the Prince mentioned Epstein in the first sentence, Maitlis said, “On the one hand, I was listening to him and on the other hand, I was thinking, ‘He will take back some of these things he said, he will refute them.
But none of that happened. In fact, Prince was in high spirits after the interview. He was so confident that he even invited the film crew to join him at Buckingham Palace for a movie night every Thursday night.
McAlister said, “It was us, the journalists, who should have been very happy. He was supposed to be depressed and devastated. But it was the opposite. He seemed very happy because he thought the interview went really well.”
Members of the BBC team couldn’t believe the jovial Prince’s demeanor, fearing that at any moment a member of the Palace staff would intervene and interfere with the documentary. Maitlis said: “We had just done an interview, the likes of which we had never seen before, and my only thought at the time was, ‘We need to get out of here now. I needed to be alone to digest what I had been through.”
THE QUEEN SAW THE DISASTER WHEN SHE READ THE TRANSCRIPT
According to Maitlis, Andrew only realized the truth thanks to his mother. The Queen read a transcript of the interview and foresaw the impending disaster and warned the Prince about it.
Stating that the Queen read the transcript shortly before the program was broadcast and called her son to an emergency meeting, Maitlis continued:
“The Queen reportedly read the entire transcript on Saturday. Then one of her bodyguards appeared before the Prince and said, ‘Sir, you may need to come with us. Apparently, the Queen had seen the results of the documentary before her son.”
Following the release of the documentary, Giuffre took his accusations against Prince Andrew to court. “What she said on Newsnight was the starting point of the court process and ultimately destroyed Andrew,” said Goldston, who quoted legal experts in the documentary.
The parties reached an agreement in 2022 for the Prince to pay millions of pounds in compensation. (The exact amount was not disclosed.) But by that point, the Prince had already been pushed out of the Royal Family.
WOULD HE BE LIKE THIS IF HE HAD MORE MONEY?
Sheldon Lazarus, one of the producers of “Andrew: The Problem Prince”, said that their aim was not to cast aspersions on the Prince, but instead to provide the context for Andrew’s behavior and decisions, adding: “Despite his position and frequent headlines, there has never been a comprehensive documentary about Prince Andrew.”
The documentary also revealed that the Queen spoiled Andrew as a child and that the adult Prince’s financial situation did not allow him to maintain the lifestyle to which he was accustomed. According to the documentary, Charles had an income of £20 million a year, while Andrew lived on an allowance of £249,000 from his mother.
The documentary also talked about the Prince’s time as a commercial attaché in the early 2000s. A diplomat who served as deputy ambassador to Bahrain at the time said that the Prince was comfortable not being accountable to anyone except his mother. The diplomat added that instead of staying in official residences, Andrew splurged by booking private rooms for himself and his entourage in luxury hotels.
“It’s a lot of money for a lot of people, but it’s clearly not enough to live like members of the Royal Family,” Goldston said. You can’t help but think, ‘It’s as if the conditions have been set up for him to fail’,” Goldston said.
In one of the most critical moments of the Newsnight interview, Maitlis asked Andrew if he regretted befriending Epstein, to which he replied, “No, because I got some very useful opportunities out of it.” According to Lazarus, this dialog prompted the producers to ask the question: “If Andrew had been wealthier, could he have made better decisions and avoided getting involved with Epstein and his circle for the sake of getting in bed with the Windsors?”
In his interview, the prince said he did not regret befriending Epstein, nor did he express any empathy for the hundreds, if not thousands, of young women and girls who were victimized by this man. A few days after the program aired, the Queen dismissed her middle son, who is also the Duke of York, from all his official duties on behalf of the Royal Family. In other words, the Prince was fired from his job.
THE “WHY” QUESTION REMAINS UNANSWERED
The Guardian’s television commentator Rachel Areosti wrote that the documentary shedding light on the background to the interview failed to answer the question “Why?”. However, the sources who spoke in the documentary gave their opinions on this question as well.
For example, according to Maitlis, Andrew wanted to clear his name for the sake of his daughters. Goldston, on the other hand, suggested that the Prince wanted to face the media pressure openly, which is why he said ‘yes’. However, this does not explain why the Prince ignored warnings from experienced figures such as Paul Tweed.
On the other hand, royal researchers say that the Prince is an extremely naive person who is not intellectual enough, surrounded by a group of people who say ‘yes’ to everything he says. Therefore, this state of mind of both the Prince and his inner circle may have influenced the decision.
Indeed, McAlister said that after the filming was over, one of the Prince’s close advisors approached him and asked, “Isn’t he a wonderful person?” He said, “Not only the Duke but also those around him were not aware of how big an event was taking place.”
The Telegraph’s “Late Queen realised Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview would be disaster”, The Guardian’s “‘Set up for failure’: the wild story behind the car crash interview which destroyed Prince Andrew” and The Times’ “Late Queen knew Prince Andrew Newsnight interview was a disaster, says Maitlis”.