In a statement, the Duke of York said Queen Elizabeth gave him permission to stop making public appearances. He also said he is "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required" in the Epstein probe.
Epstein died in prison in August before he could stand trial for human trafficking charges. On Tuesday, New York prosecutors charged two guards who were on duty when Epstein died with filing false head count reports. Epstein's death, especially after he'd attempted suicide a few weeks before, has sparked conspiracy theories about the circumstances of his death, especially because he had damaging information on powerful people who allegedly hired underage girls through him.
Several of the ventures the duke set up were losing sponsors because of Prince Andrew's association with Epstein.
"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support," Prince Andrew said. "Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."
Prince Andrew didn't shy away from his friendship with Epstein in a recent interview. He faces accusations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said Epstein trafficked her to London to meet Prince Andrew and have sex with him. Prince Andrew denies it.
"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein," Prince Andrew said. "His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure."
Prince Andrew said he hopes Epstein's victims can rebuild their lives.