Prince Andrew’s explosive interview last week detailing his controversial friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has been almost universally panned by insiders and audiences alike.
But now, reports have suggested the ‘driving force’ behind the candid sit-down was none other than the royal’s ex-wife and close confidante, Sarah Ferguson.
The claims come from the Daily Mail, who quote a source saying that Fergie 'encouraged' and 'convinced' the father of her two adult daughters to share his story in a dramatic hour-long interview with the BBC.
“When the possibility of this interview arose, Sarah felt that it could be the best way of clearing his name while presenting the public with a look at the real Andrew,” the publication’s source claimed.
“The interview gave him the chance to address the negative headlines rather than leave them unanswered and present his version of events.
“Given how damaging this scandal has been in the past six months, Sarah felt Andrew needed to get ahead of the matter to give his public image a better chance of recovery.”
However, despite the duchess’ best intentions, Prince Andrew’s interview was widely labelled a ‘car crash’ for his apparent lack of sympathy for Epstein’s victims.
In Australia, The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson also took a clear swipe at the prince during Sunday night’s episode.
“If that interview was meant to take the heat off Prince Andrew it's going to do exactly the opposite,” she told the panel program’s studio audience.
“The extraordinary thing is at the end he was asked ‘is there anything we've left out?’
“At no point in 60 minutes did he find the time to condemn child sex trafficking around the world or express any remorse for what's happened to the victims of Jeffrey Epstein. Breathtaking.”
Among the most heinous allegations against the prince is that he had sex with Virginia Roberts on several occasions in 2001 when she was just 17 years old.
Ms Roberts has alleged she and Prince Andrew dined together and went to a nightclub in London before the first time they allegedly had sex.
However, the Duke of York denies ever meeting Ms Roberts and says instead of going nightclubbing with her and having sex with her, he was at a pizza restaurant in Woking, southwest of London, before going home.
“I was with the children and I'd taken [my daughter] Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon," he told the BBC.
Fergie’s sign of support
And in the hours before the interview went to air on Saturday night, Fergie once again offered a line of support to her ex, penning an emotional tribute to him on Instagram.
“Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people,” she wrote.
“I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man, that dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth.
“For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch. It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour.”
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