Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is expressing her support for her ex-husband Prince Andrew before the airing of his tell-all interview about his late former associate and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
The financier and convicted pedophile died in jail at age 66 in early August in what officials said was a suicide, as he awaited trial over charges of sex trafficking of dozens of underage girls. Papers filed in a 2015 U.S. civil case stated that Epstein had in the past spent time with the Duke of York. At the time, Buckingham Palace denied that he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with the females involved with Epstein.
Since his death, Andrew has faced fresh criticism over his former association with him, while one of his accusers has gone on record to claim she was forced to have sex with the duke, including on a private island Epstein owned, when she was teen. In an upcoming BBC Newsnight interview, Andrew opens up about his past link to Epstein, and denies meeting the woman.
"It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs," Sarah, who shares daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice with her ex, wrote on Instagram on Friday. "Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people. I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man, that dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth."
"For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch," she continued. "It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour. We have always walked tall and strong, he for me and me for him. We are the best examples of joint parenting, with both our girls and I go back to my three C's .. Communicate, Compromise, Compassion @hrhthedukeofyork."
Andrew's "no holds barred interview" with BBC Newsnight was recorded on Thursday at Buckingham Palace and will air on BBC Two on Saturday at 9 p.m. local time.
In late August, Andrew broke his silence about Epstein, saying in a personal statement that they met in 1999 and that he saw him "probably no more than only once or twice a year." He said he "stayed in a number of his residences" and that "at no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."
Also in August, the Daily Mail published a 2010 photo that they said showed Andrew waving to a woman from inside a New York City residence owned by Epstein. Two years prior, Epstein had pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor in Florida, which landed him a 13-month jail sentence and forced him to register as a sex offender.
Also in 2010, Andrew was photographed with Epstein in New York's Central Park. Andrew reiterated in his statement that "it was a mistake and an error" to see Epstein after his prison release and added that he regretted that he "was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know."
"I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behavior," he added.
One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, formerly Virginia Roberts, has said she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times between 1999 and 2002, in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein. She was 17 years old and legally underage at the time.
In the BBC interview, interviewer Emily Maitlis asks Andrew about Giuffre's claims. He replies, "I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," BBC News reported.
Giuffre's lawyer told the Daily Mail on Friday, "I believe there is an ongoing investigation in New York by the FBI under the supervision of the US Attorney's office into those involved in facilitating Jeffrey Epstein's abuse. I would love to see Prince Andrew submit to an interview under oath with the investigating authorities. Talking to the media doesn't quite cut it. Statements that are not under oath carry little weight. Andrew would be considered at the least a key witness. I doubt that he is a target of the investigation but it is possible."
Sarah has herself a link to Epstein, a financial one. He helped her avoid bankruptcy by paying off part of her £5 million ($6.45 million) debts after an intervention from Andrew, The Telegraph reported in 2011.
She later admitted to the newspaper that the duke's office arranged for Epstein to give £15,000 ($19,300) to her former personal assistant said, "I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me. I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf. I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."
"I cannot state more strongly that I know a terrible, terrible error of judgment was made, my having anything do with Jeffrey Epstein. What he did was wrong and for which he was rightly jailed," she said. "I had no idea of the string of other allegations and court cases against him and I am distraught that I should have allowed myself to get out of debt with any help from him when my judgment was clouded. Once again my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world, the Duke. He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him."