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.
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Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York visits the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to open the new Stanmore Building, in London, Britain March 21, 2019. David Mirzoeff/ Pool via REUTERS
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Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) attend the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 9, 2019. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Dame Vivian Hunt and Prince Andrew, Duke of York arrive through the East Gallery during the State Banquet, on day one of the U.S. President's Donald Trump state visit, at Buckingham Palace, London, Britain, June 3, 2019. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends the semi-final match between Noval Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov on centre court at The Wimbledon Championships at Wimbledon on July 4, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York meets patient Brenda Tilbury during a visit the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to open the new Stanmore Building, in London, Britain March 21, 2019. David Mirzoeff/ Pool via REUTERS
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Andrew, Duke of York & Queen Elizabeth II watch the horses in the parade ring as they attend Day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Duke of York (left) and the Duke of Cambridge during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall, central London. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 09, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/- WPA Pool/Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: (L-R) Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Harry attend day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends Day 4 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 24: (CHINA OUT) Prince Andrew, Duke of York speaks during the 10th anniversary of Harrow International School Beijing on October 24, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 29: Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) meets with Duke of York Prince Andrew in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29, 2014. (Photo by Turkish Foreign Ministry/Cengiz Oguz Gumrukcu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 29: Duke of York Prince Andrew attends to the Turkish-British Tatli Dil (mellifluence) Forum in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29, 2014. (Photo by Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and the Duke of York are seen at Westminster Abbey as part of their state visit in London, Britain June 3, 2019. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
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ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Queen Elizabeth ll, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, Duke of York arrive in an open carriage to attend Ladies Day at Royal Ascot on June 19, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
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Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 22, 2019 Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York arrive at Ascot REUTERS/Toby Melville
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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.