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emarto/iStock(LONDON) — Prince Andrew will step back from public duties “for the foreseeable future” over heavy criticism he has faced for his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” the statement from the prince read.

He said he asked Queen Elizabeth if he may step back from his public duties, and she gave her permission.

The prince added that he continues to “unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Epstein died in prison from an apparent suicide on Aug. 10.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure,” the prince said in a statement. “I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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