Prince Andrew to step back from public duties, says he regrets association with Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew The Duke of York arrives at the Headquarters of CrossRail in Canary Wharf on March 7, 2011 in London, England. Prince Andrew is under increasing pressure after a series of damaging revelations about him, including criticism over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, an American financier surfaced. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Prince Andrew said Wednesday he is stepping back from public duties with the queen’s permission.

Andrew said it has become clear to him in recent days that his association with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has become a “major distraction” to the royal family’s work.

He said he regrets his association with the former U.S. businessman and that he “deeply sympathizes” with his victims.

The prince said his mother Queen Elizabeth II had given him permission to step back from royal duties.

Andrew has been heavily criticized for his performance in a TV interview Saturday in which he failed to express concern for Epstein’s victims.

He seemed to show no remorse for his close association with a convicted sex offender who had abused many underage girls.

Some charities that he has worked with as a patron have said they were reviewing their association with the prince because of his actions.

Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, robbing his alleged victims of a chance for their day in court. His death on Aug. 10 in a New York prison has been ruled a suicide by the city’s medical examiner.

Andrew said Epstein’s suicide left many unanswered questions.

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