Britain’s Prince Andrew says he does not remember a woman who has accused him of sexually exploiting her in encounters arranged by Jeffrey Epstein.
He told BBC Newsnight in an interview scheduled to be broadcast Saturday that he has “no recollection” of meeting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says Epstein paid her $15,000 after she had an encounter with the prince in 2001 when she was 17.
The prince has made similar denials for years but has come under new pressure following Epstein’s arrest and suicide last summer in New York.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he tells the BBC, according to excerpts of the interview released Friday.
Ms Giuffre has produced a photo showing her posing with the prince in London and recently challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters: "He knows exactly what he's done, and I hope he comes clean about it."
The prince said in the BBC interview that he regrets not cutting ties with Epstein after the financier was convicted in 2008 of sex crimes involving teenage girls.
He saw Epstein, a sex offender, following his release from custody in Florida.
“I kick myself for (it) on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family,” he said, “and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”
The British press and royal observers have been deeply critical of the prince's interview.
"I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad," Royal Central website editor Charlie Proctor said.
"I have never seen anything so disastrous. For any students of PR that is how not to do it," Public relations and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said.
"It was like watching a man in quick sand and unfortunately, I don't think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out."
Prince Andrew said he first met Epstein three years after his 10-year marriage with Sarah Ferguson ended in divorce in 1996.
Prior to the interview, Ms Ferguson tweeted her support for her former husband.
"It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs," she wrote.
"Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness," Ms Ferguson added.
Earlier this year he had released a statement saying that he saw Epstein "infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year."