Prince Andrew: I don't recall meeting accuser, I don't recall photo and I deny any sexual contact whatsoever

You have not heard a member of the Royal Family talk like this before - and you are very unlikely ever to do so again.

Which is why Buckingham Palace thought long and hard about whether to put the Queen's second son in front of the television cameras to respond to allegations that he'd had sex with a young woman who had been trafficked by the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

And it appears there was no part of this story which was off limits for the questioner, Emily Maitlis, from the BBC's Newsnight.

And while he denies very clearly and repeatedly that he'd had sex or "any kind of sexual contact" relations with his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, he says he does not regret becoming friends with her alleged abuser, Jeffrey Epstein, because of the "opportunities" he was given to learn from him about the world of business.

Prince Andrew denies sexual contact with Virginia Roberts Giuffre. Credit: BBC News

He also says:

  • Denies he ever met his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre

  • Says he was at Pizza Express in Woking on night she claims he had sex with her

  • "I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened," he says of her claims

  • Responds to very personal questions about his sex life

  • Claims he never saw or witnessed anything about Jeffrey Epstein to make him suspicious

Prince Andrew explained his "once or twice a year" friendship started when Epstein started dating the Prince's friend Ghislaine Maxwell, sometime around 1999.

But he insists that there was "no indication to me or anybody else" that Epstein had been procuring young girls for sex trafficking.

The Duke of York told the programme: "I was Patron of the NSPCC's Full Stop campaign so I was close up with what was going on in those time about getting rid of abuse to children so I knew what the things were to look for but I never saw them."

Nevertheless, he confirms that Epstein, before his conviction, was Andrew's guest at a shooting weekend at Sandringham.

  • ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship on the "extraordinary interview"

He also came to Windsor Castle for Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday in 2006 although - at the time, the Prince says, no discussion was had that an arrest warrant had been issued for Epstein for the sexual assault of a minor.

The prince said of inviting Epstein to his daughter's birthday: "I wasn’t aware when the invitation was issued what was going on in the United States."

Prince Andrew has always been clear that his error of judgement in this saga happened in 2010, when he flew to New York and was photographed with Jeffrey Epstein in the city's Central Park and also filmed at the door of Epstein's New York apartment.

At that point, Epstein had been convicted of soliciting prostitution with a minor.

So why did the Prince go there?

Prince Andrew denies getting a massage from a Russian. Credit: BBC News

Andrew told Newsnight: "I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together"

He added: "I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it ... and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left".

The Duke of York insists he saw Epstein only three times on that visit: for the walk (during which they were photographed), during a dinner at his apartment and "probably passing in the passage."

Asked three times about claims that a guest had seen the Prince getting a foot massage from a young Russian woman in Epstein's apartment, Prince Andrew replies "no" and says he is "absolutely sure" that it is not him.

Andrew and Epstein were photographed in conversation in New York. Credit: PA

One of the women who claims they were abused and trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein is Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre.

The Prince was asked in detail about her allegations against him: that Epstein trafficked her to Prince Andrew; that he danced with her in Tramp Nightclub in London, that he had sex with her at the house belonging to his friend Ghislaine Maxwell.

"It didn't happen," replied Prince Andrew, "I've no recollection of ever meeting her."

On the date that has been suggested the Prince says he was at Pizza Express in Woking - an odd place to find a member of the Royal Family.

But Andrew says "going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do … I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly."

"Is it possible that you met Virginia Roberts ... had sex with her on another date?" Emily Maitlis asks the Prince. "No," is his reply, "I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened."

Prince Andrew says he has no recollection of meeting his accuser. Credit: BBC News

He also says Roberts' claim that he was sweating while dancing with her in the nightclub is untrue because he had a medical condition caused by the Falklands War that meant he couldn't sweat.

Again, it's the kind of personal detail, you'd never to expect to hear from a member of the Royal Family.

The Prince similarly denies Ms Roberts' claims they had sex in New York and on Epstein's private island: "All of it, absolutely no to all of it."

So how does he explain the photograph that the whole world has seen of him with his arm around Ms Roberts?

Prince Andrew says he has "no memory of that photograph ever being taken", says he never went upstairs in Ghislaine Maxwell's house and would never go out in London dressed like that, without a suit and a tie.

He suggests the photograph could be fake: "From the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph."

It might not be a compelling argument but the Duke suggests the hand on Ms Roberts' left side might not be his: "We can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand on her … left side."

Andrew suggests the photo of he and Ms Roberts may be doctored. Credit: .

There is also a conversation in the interview about sexual intercourse.

The Prince tells Emily Maitlis: "Without putting too fine a point on it, if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody.

"You have to have to take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult ... and I do not remember anything. I can’t, I’ve wracked my brain ... and no, nothing. It just never happened."

As for where this leaves him and the Royal Family, Prince Andrew denies it has been damaging to The Queen but admits "it has to me".

And for his own family (his ex-wife and two daughters) he says it's been a "constant sore" because "we all knew him [Epstein]".

But despite being asked if he regretted his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew replied: "Still not and the reason is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful."

He also referred to Epstein's abhorrent crimes as "unbecoming" and when he was picked up on that description, he replied: "I'm sorry, I'm being polite."

That could be an overly formal expression by a member of the Royal Family and some might have urged him to be more critical in his choice of language about his former friend.

But as for the allegations which have been made against him, and which he himself admits have been damaging, the Duke of York could not have been more emphatic in his denials in the course of this rare and personal 45 minute interview.