Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway says that she regrets her ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“I would never have had anything to do with Epstein if I had been aware of the seriousness of his criminal acts,” the crown princess said in a statement given to the Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv. “I should have examined Epstein’s past more closely, and I regret that I did not.”
In addition to her admission, the royal expressed her “deepest sympathy and solidarity to the victims of Jeffrey Epstein.”
The newspaper reported that the princess met socially with the late financier “several times” from 2011 to 2013, years after Epstein served jail time in 2008 for soliciting prostitution from an underage girl and was forced to register as a sex offender.
“One of the meetings took place at Mr. Epstein’s home. The Crown Princess also had a brief meeting with Mr. Epstein while he was in Oslo. There were other people present in all the meetings,” Guri Varpe, head of communications at the Royal Palace, told DN.
Varpe added that “during the time the Crown Princess had contact with Mr. Epstein, she was not aware of the scope, nor the character of the crimes he had been convicted of, and subsequently served time in jail. She was naturally not aware of the crimes that have been uncovered later.”
“In 2013, Mette-Marit chose to conclude her association with Mr. Epstein,” the spokesperson said. “Partly, this was because she felt that Mr. Epstein attempted to trade on the relationship ... for his own gain in other relations.”
Epstein died by suicide in August as he was jailed awaiting trial in Manhattan on charges of sex trafficking underage girls. He had connections to many influential figures, including a close friendship with another royal, Prince Andrew.
The British prince attempted to distance himself and explain away his friendship with the late financier in a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight last month. The backlash to his aloof interview was so strong that Andrew announced just a few days later that he was stepping away from royal life for the foreseeable future.