U.S. law enforcement hopes to speak with Prince Andrew

LONDON — Multiple senior U.S. law enforcement officials told NBC News that they are hoping to speak with Prince Andrew after he indicated last week that he would be willing to help with any investigation related to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The investigation into the late, disgraced financier remains active and now that Andrew has said he’ll talk, investigators are hoping to speak with him, the officials said.

Spokespeople for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the FBI declined to comment.

Andrew announced Wednesday that he was stepping away from public duties “for the foreseeable future” because of the controversy surrounding his past friendship with Epstein. Buckingham Palace said in a statement that this was his “personal decision.”

The Duke of York’s announcement came days after he discussed his relationship with Epstein in a rare TV interview that ended up only heightening public attention to the matter.

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In the interview, Andrew — who said he hadn’t spoken to Epstein since 2010 — denied allegations he had sex with a woman who claims she was trafficked by Epstein when she was 17. The prince said he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia Roberts Giuffre and that he was at a pizza restaurant with his daughter on the day in 2001 she alleged they had the sexual encounter.

The BBC is set to air an interview with Giuffre next Monday.

Instead of drawing a line under the allegations, Andrew’s interview with the BBC dominated headlines and even threatened to make the monarchy a political issue in the midst of a polarized election campaign.

A YouGov poll taken after the broadcast showed that only 6 percent of the more than 1,400 respondents believed Andrew’s explanations about his friendship with Epstein, and 47 percent thought it damaged the monarchy.

Andrew has been panned for his defense of his friendship with Epstein, who died by suicide Aug. 10, and what was seen by some as a failure to show any sympathy for the victims.

In Wednesday’s statement, he said, “I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.”

In another sign that the monarchy may be distancing itself from Andrew, local media reported that the queen canceled a 60th birthday party planned to celebrate his charity work next year. The palace declined to comment on the report.

Andrew serves as a patron, or royal supporter, of more than 230 charities. Many of them have cut their ties with him since the interview, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The future of his Pitch@Palace initiative, which helps entrepreneurs find support and funding, was also in the air. Buckingham Palace says Pitch@Palace will now take place outside of Buckingham Palace, and at least one sponsor deserted the program even before the TV interview.

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, was abroad on a trip to New Zealand last week when Andrew issued his unprecedented statement. He headed back to the United Kingdom from the Solomon Islands on Monday.

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