The producer behind Prince Andrew's infamous trainwreck BBC interview has opened up for the first time with stunning new details from behind the scenes of the top-secret process.
In an excerpt published by the Daily Mail from her new book, Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC's Most Shocking Interviews, Sam McAlister – who at the time worked for Newsnight – reveals after months of unsuccessful bids for a no-holds-barred interview with the Duke of York, she finally threw all caution to the wind during a meeting between both camps.
According to the journalist, she told him: "Sir. I have lived in this country for over 40 years and, until now, I only knew two things about you. It's that you're known as 'Air Miles Andy' and 'Randy Andy' — and I can absolutely tell you that the latter really doesn't help you in your current predicament."
She was referring to the intense global scrutiny around Andrew following the arrest of his former close friend, Jeffrey Epstein, and immediately wondered if she'd blown their chances of landing "the interview of a lifetime".
However, after a "long pause", McAlister claimed Andrew suddenly laughed, and everyone in the room instantly relaxed.
After years of being dogged by headlines about his close ties with the convicted paedophile, in November 2019, the royal agreed to sit down with BBC presenter Emily Maitlis to finally answer questions about their relationship and deny accusations that he had sex with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts-Giuffre.
Rather than clear his name, the interview backfired so spectacularly that just three days later – and amid global outrage – Andrew announced he was "stepping back" from royal duties.
Prince Andrew has not been charged with any crime and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing
In the book, McAlister explains that the Prince was "upbeat" and "friendly" during their pre-interview meeting, and had brought his daughter, Princess Beatrice, along with him.
However, unlike her father, Beatrice was "evidently anxious" and "clearly there to protect his interests".
It was during that meeting, McAlister says, that Andrew revealed for the first time his "alibi" on the night Roberts-Guiffre claimed to have slept with him.
He told the BBC team about a children's party at Pizza Express, his now-infamous "no sweating" issue, and even admitted to "errors of judgement".
"It was jaw-dropping stuff," writes McAlister.
"And then he said something I'll never forget. As we concluded, he turned to Princess Beatrice and said they had a lot to discuss and should go, straight after, upstairs to talk about it over a cup of tea, with Mum.
" … And then it hit me. 'Mum' was the Queen."
The former TV producer also expressed shock at the lack of representation in the room during the interview, which would ultimately end Andrew's royal career.
Aside from the Prince's equerry, his Private Secretary, Amanda Thirsk, was present with her deputy, and McAlister admits she couldn't believe there were "no lawyers, no other royal staff".
She also revealed the Queen did send her own representation to check in – her Communications Secretary, Donal McCabe – but that he left after speaking to a few people, and before filming had even begun.
"Afterwards, this seemed a missed opportunity – if he'd stayed, he'd have known the contents of the interview first-hand. Perhaps he would have released how terribly this would play out for Andrew, for the palace, for the monarchy," McAlister writes.
"Perhaps they would have had more time to prepare a response. Damage limitation of some kind."
But perhaps most staggering of all is the detail McAlister gives around the reaction by Andrew and his team, both during and immediately after the interview.
"I could barely believe his people hadn't stopped the interview. I would have, despite the consequences," she admits in her book.
She went on to describe how the royal staff had seemed pleased with how the shocking interview had played out and Andrew even "seemed ebullient".
It was then, McAlister writes, that she realised he "actually thought it had all gone well".
The excerpt from McAlister's book comes just days after Andrew's former friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for helping Epstein procure girls for sex.
She apologised in a Manhattan court for her crimes this week, telling her victims - many of whom were present - that she hoped her jail time brought them "closure".
"I acknowledge with that I have been a victim of helping Jeffrey Epstein commit these crimes," she told the judge, claiming meeting the predator was "the biggest regret" of her life.
One victim said outside court that "sorry doesn't cut it".
The sentence is far shorter than the maximum 55 years that prosecutors were seeking.
Despite that, Maxwell's lawyers have said they will appeal and that the jail time reflected the late Epstein's crimes rather than her own.