Britain's Prince Andrew has announced he will step down from his public duties because of the controversy over his involvement with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison earlier this year.
A statement from Buckingham Palace, issued Wednesday, said the scandal has become a "major disruption" to the royal family's work and to the charities associated with Prince Andrew, a younger brother to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles.
In the statement, Andrew said he had asked Queen Elizabeth II if he could "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future" and said she had given her permission.
The 59-year-old prince, also known as the Duke of York, has denied allegations he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein. He drew widespread criticism for an interview aired Saturday on the BBC, in which he expressed no compassion for the victims of Epstein's alleged sex trafficking.
Epstein, previously convicted of sexual offenses, was awaiting trial on new charges of child sex trafficking when he hanged himself in his cell.
"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein," the prince said in his statement. "His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure."
Prince Andrew also expressed a willingness to help law enforcement officials with investigations of Epstein and his associates.