How Prince Andrew’s interview with Emily Maitlis ‘may have saved him his life’

Prince Andrew’s appearance on BBC Newsnight with Emily Maitlis in 2019 has been credited for helping him to settle in his sex abuse case

Emily Maitlis
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Andrew's infamous interview with Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight could have saved him from a disastrous fate, a legal expert has claimed.

Prince Andrew's interview with Emily Maitlis has long been considered one of the Royal Family's most shameful television moments—but it's now being credited for saving the Queen's disgraced son from a financially disastrous fate. 

The Duke of York appeared on BBC Newsnight in November 2019 to address Virginia Giuffre's allegations of sex abuse against him and to discuss his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

The sit-down special, which took place at Buckingham Palace, was met with a mixture of anger, shock and ridicule from viewers—many of whom did not believe a word that came out of the prince's mouth. 

From his claims that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre—despite being photographed with her when she was 17—to his insistence that he couldn't sweat due to a health condition, the Duke emerged from the interview with virtually no credibility to cushion him against the American-Australian campaigner's damning allegations. 

Prince Andrew

(Image credit: Getty)

Fast forward two years, however, and it looks like this embarrassing appearance could have been key to protecting Prince Andrew from further trouble down the line. 

The Duke was sued by Giuffre in a civil case in late 2021—a process that could have seen him stand trial this autumn. Fortunately for the 61-year-old, he won't be flying to the US for legal reasons any time soon. 

On Monday 15 February, Prince Andrew's sex abuse case was settled out of court, after the royal agreed to pay Giuffre an undisclosed sum of money. In a statement released by his accuser's lawyer, it was confirmed that the Duke regretted his “association” with Epstein and acknowledged that the late sex offender had “trafficked countless young girls over many years”. 

While he did not apologize to Giuffre, he did accept that she had “suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”

Virginia Giuffre

Virginia Giuffre

(Image credit: Getty)

This outcome may not have been possible without the Duke's experience of the Newsnight interview, according to a US lawyer. 

“Emily's interview was a watershed moment for him,” defence attorney Randy Zelin said on the BBC podcast, Americast, on Tuesday 16 February. “It may have saved him his life.

“Prince Andrew, certainly, if he felt it could further his case, could have used the interview to his benefit. In fact, he imploded as a result of that interview, and I can promise you that interview was a motivating factor for him to settle.”

The New York legal expert went on to explain that the interview confronted the Duke with his incompetence when speaking off the cuff—a weakness that would likely have jeopardized his testimony in court. 

“It allowed him to see what an awful witness he would have made if he chose to push all of his chips in and see this thing to trial,” Zelin added. “I would respectfully suggest that Emily's interview actually saved Prince Andrew a lot of money, because it made him recognize: ‘It's time to end this.’”

The amount of the Duke of York's settlement with Giuffre remains unknown, but it's reported to be about £10m. It's been said that the Queen will ‘likely’ pay for the agreement from her own private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.