Prince Andrew's disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis 'showed he's not plugged into reality like most people are'

11 April 2023, 09:56

Andrew had a torrid time in his interview with Emily Maitlis in 2019
Andrew had a torrid time in his interview with Emily Maitlis in 2019. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Prince Andrew's disastrous Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis showed his overconfidence, it's claimed in a new documentary series.

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The Duke of York had tried to put his defence out against his accuser Virginia Giuffre, whose claims he vehemently denies, and distance himself from his former friend, the disgraced paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.

But the interview proved to be incredibly damaging, bringing Ms Giuffre's claims to even greater prominence and ultimately leading to him being stripped of his HRH title and military positions.

Andrew made a series of claims that have endured in the mind of the public, including claiming that he was unable to sweat because of his experience in the Falklands War and that he had been at Pizza Express in Woking on the night Ms Giuffre claims they had sex.

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He had even claimed he stayed in touch with Epstein after the financier's release from prison – where he had been jailed for child sex offences – because he was "too honourable".

In an ITVX documentary called The Real Crown, Conservative peer Lord Patten said: "He thought he was capable of getting away with some answer which inevitably turns around and hits him over the head.

"It says he's not plugged into the same reality as the rest of us."

Andrew's Newsnight interview was seen as a disaster
Andrew's Newsnight interview was seen as a disaster. Picture: Alamy

The duke's past role as a kind of trade envoy has also been savaged in the series, which will stream from April 20.

The series spoke to a former deputy head of the British mission to Bahrain, Simon Wilson, who said: "We had a whole raft of things that came out in advance of his visit, his dislikes, in terms of eating and stuff, would only drink water, had to be at room temperature, no ice.

"He always brought a large entourage with him, a private secretary, an equerry, a valet, a lady clerk and a business adviser.

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"We were shocked when a 6ft ironing board was trying to be negotiated into one of the embassy cars. I just could not believe that he was bringing an ironing board with him.

"I asked the valet and said, 'This is insane'. The valet's reply was, 'No one knows how to iron His Royal Highness's trousers like me'."

He added: "We had a speech prepared, the ambassador gave the opening remarks and then said, 'Your Royal Highness, you say a few words', and Andrew refused to get up.

Emily Maitlis' interview was seen as a car crash for Andrew
Emily Maitlis' interview was seen as a car crash for Andrew. Picture: Alamy

"Then he did get up and he'd tap the ambassador on the head two or three times and said, 'This is the man who'll tell you all about trade,' and sat down. The whole room went totally silent.

"I thought initially when he went off-message at meetings that it was an aberration until I found that the same thing had happened at every mission, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Doha, Qatar.

"The same behaviour. Obviously throughout his life, he's done his own thing and was quite happy to continue in that vein and he knew that there would be no repercussions.

"There's no recourse as a member of the Royal Family so, no, no diplomat will write a critical letter.

"After every single visit a telegram would go back to the Foreign Office saying, 'Everything has been wonderful, we're all so grateful to His Royal Highness for another wonderful successful visit'. Behind the scenes was a different matter."

Andrew, who agreed a multimillion pound settlement with Ms Giuffre, has had to keep a low profile in recent years.