Britain’s Prince Andrew said Wednesday he was stepping back from public duties with the queen’s permission.
Andrew said it had become clear to him in recent days that his association with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had become a “major distraction” to the royal family’s work.
He said he regretted his association with the former U.S. businessman and that he “deeply sympathizes” with Epstein’s 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 are reviewing their association with the prince because of his actions.
Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges when he was found dead Aug. 10, robbing his alleged victims of a chance for their day in court. His death 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.