Thursday, 8 Dec 2022

‘Evidently anxious’ How Beatrice played key role in Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview

Prince Andrew: Richard Palmer discusses possible return

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The eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York joined her father in a meeting with Sam McAlister, a producer at BBC Newsnight, to discuss the possibility of Prince Andrew being interviewed in a special episode of the programme. Ms McAlister, who was pivotal in securing the interview, recalled in her upcoming book ‘Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews’ the role played by Princess Beatrice hours before the Queen’s second son agreed to answer on television Emily Maitlis’ questions.

In the book syndicated in the Daily Mail, Ms McAlister wrote: “To be frank, the only thing worse than speaking to a prospective interviewee about allegations of sexual impropriety and sex with a 17-year-old girl is having to do so in front of his daughter.

“Princess Beatrice was polite and engaged, but, unlike her father, she was evidently anxious about the meeting and clearly there to protect his interests.

“I’d heard she was close to the Queen.

“The Prince’s eldest daughter was now, I felt, the person who could make the difference between us getting the interview or not.”

Ms McAlister claimed there was “never any attempt” to change what Ms Maitlis would ask the Duke during the interview.

The producer said she was left stunned by one thing Prince Andrew told to Princess Beatrice prior to ending their meeting regarding the potential interview, held days before the groundbreaking chat was filmed.

Ms McAlister wrote: “As we concluded, he turned to Princess Beatrice and said they had a lot to discuss and should go, straight after, upstairs, to talk about it, over a cup of tea, with Mum.

“For a split second, I almost scoffed; what on earth did a grown man need to talk to his mum for? And then it hit me. ‘Mum’ was the Queen.”

The Duke, Ms McAlister added, agreed to the interview less than 24 hours later.

Prince Andrew’s interview with Ms Maitlis was broadcast on November 16 2019.

It focused on his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who had been found dead in his prison cell a few months earlier.

During the interview, Andrew also claimed to have “no recollection of ever meeting” Virginia Giuffre, who alleged to have had sex with the royal on three occasions while being trafficked by Epstein.

Since the allegations first came to light, the Duke repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Following his interview, Prince Andrew was accused by viewers of failing to express total regret for his association with the late sex offender.

After a number of organisations linked to the Duke announced they were reviewing their ties with the royal, Prince Andrew said in a statement he was going to temporarily step back from public duties.

In January, Buckingham Palace stated Prince Andrew had returned his royal and military patronages to the Queen and would continue not to undertake official engagements.

Ms Giuffre, who had launched a civil lawsuit against the Duke in August 2021, and Prince Andrew reached an out-of-court settlement in February, which did not comprise an admission of liability by the royal.

Since 2019, the Duke has made only a handful of appearances during official events.

In April 2021, he attended the funeral of his father Prince Philip at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

Almost one year later, he arrived with the Queen at Westminster Abbey to attend a poignant service of thanksgiving in tribute to the Duke of York.

Andrew, who by walking down the nave with the Queen gained a front and centre position at the ceremony, has since been spotted in public only on the grounds of Windsor while driving or horse riding.

After being struck by Covid days prior to the beginning of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, he did not take part in the celebrations for the Queen’s reign – unlike his daughters Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews by Sam McAlister is published by Oneworld on July 14.

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