IT was the complete lack of empathy that was perhaps the most chilling.

We weren’t expecting real, genuine emotion or sincere murmurings of regret, but something – anything – would have been better than the vile display of uncaring arrogance Prince Andrew offered us during his ill-fated Newsnight interview.

He assured Emily Maitlis that he didn’t notice the people in Jeffrey Epstein’s home – and whether any of them were girls trafficked for sexual abuse – because he doesn’t pay much attention to staff.

His defence of his decades-long friendship with a paedophile amounted to little more than ignorance and his tendency to see the best in people. Readers can watch the interview for themselves and draw their own conclusions. A recent YouGov poll showed that just 6% of Britons believe Prince Andrew’s account.

In a statement released by the palace on Wednesday, the prince said he would be stepping back from formal royal duties for the “foreseeable future”.

Prince Andrew is a patron or has an official role in more than 200 charities and in the wake of the interview, many had threatened to cut ties with him. It is ironic that they were so much quicker to distance themselves from the disgraced prince than he was in ending his friendship with a convicted sex offender.

In the days after the interview, a student panel at the University of Huddersfield passed a motion asking Prince Andrew to step down as chancellor, saying: “We as students at the University of Huddersfield and members of Huddersfield students’ union should not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault.”

Shortly after the motion was passed, Prince Andrew announced he would be stepping down as chancellor with “immediate effect”.

In his statement he may have – finally – remembered to express sympathy for Epstein’s victims, but it was too little, too late.

Some have reacted with disbelief that a father of daughters could be so callous in their indifference to the abuse suffered by women and girls at the hands of paedophile Epstein. They should temper their shock. All men have a mother, most have aunties, sisters or daughters. That doesn’t stop predatory men abusing women, nor does it excuse those who minimise or ignore their crimes from their complicity in the cycle of abuse.

Prince Andrew had daughters when he made the decision to party with Epstein in his New York mansion after his release from prison for procuring minors for prostitution. He had daughters during the BBC Newsnight interview, when he spoke at length about what he sees as his own positive attributes, while failing to mention the victims entirely.

If you believe in the rights and dignity of women and girls only when you are related by blood, then you don’t recognise women’s humanity at all.

The Prince’s statement released to the public said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Which is odd, because during the interview with Emily Maitlis, he couldn’t have been clearer. He said he didn’t regret his association with Epstein because “the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful”.

This recent development is nothing more than crisis management from the palace.

Are we supposed to feel gratitude for Prince Andrew’s begrudging retreat from public life?

Will the revulsion we felt listening to his grandiose musings dissipate now he is slinking off into the background? I suspect not.

There is no relief to be found in this announcement and there is certainly no justice. At best, Prince Andrew showed catastrophic levels of misjudgement. In any other industry – in a job that he earned and wasn’t born into – he would be gone, without pay.

He’s not a fit and proper person to represent himself, let alone represent the UK on the world stage. The same country that punishes families with hunger and fuel poverty if they are 10 minutes late for an appointment at the Jobcentre has no method of recourse to sanction Prince Andrew.

We will continue to fund his lavish lifestyle and that of his family. The royal family are insulated from consequences by a happy accident of birth.

Their privilege and power is unconditional, eternal – and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Not for as long as we are governed by sycophants like Boris Johnson, who said during the ITV leaders’ debate that the royal family is “beyond reproach”.

The Queen may be a popular figurehead in some sections of society, but her brood certainly are not.

Perhaps this sorry saga will encourage some to re-evaluate the unearned deference they give to the Windsor bloodline. Would you bow to odious Andrew? I wouldn’t. The royal family don’t represent the best of the UK. If anything, their continued reign over us shows the UK at its very worst.