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Prince Andrew to step back from public duties

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FILE – In this Monday, April 13, 2015 file photo, Britain’s Prince Andrew visits the AkzoNobel Decorative Paints facility in Slough, England. Prince Andrew’s effort to put the Jeffrey Epstein scandal behind him may have instead done him irreparable harm. While aides are trying to put the best face on his widely criticized interview with the BBC, royal watchers are asking whether he can survive the public relations disaster and remain a working member of the royal family. (David Parker/Pool Photo via AP, File)

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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