Prince Andrew to stand aside from all 230 of his patronages

Move follows BBC interview about association with sex offender Jeffery Epstein

Prince Andrew is to withdraw from scores of charities in a move that appeared designed to protect the monarchy from further humiliation over his association with Jeffrey Epstein.

Buckingham Palace confirmed on Sunday that the Duke of York was “standing back from all his patronages” but indicated he still hoped to return to a public role at some point by saying the move was only temporary.

The prince said last week that he was willing to help “any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations [into Epstein] if required”. But the fallout from his friendship with the convicted child sex offender, who is believed to have killed himself in a New York prison in August, has already seen him lose or withdraw from patronages with English National Ballet, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Outward Bound Trust.

He was dropped as chancellor of the University of Huddersfield after pressure from students, who said he was unfit for the role because of his “association with a known paedophile”.

The London Metropolitan University was due to consider his patronage at a meeting of its governors on Tuesday, having said it “opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking”.

The Foundation for Liver Research also said its trustees would consider his position, and Royal Portrush golf club, which highlighted “the trauma and distress suffered by the victims of Jeffrey Epstein” said its council would discuss Andrew’s role at its forthcoming meeting. It was also reported on Sunday that the private Whitgift school in Croydon was considering removing him as patron.

Many of the prince’s patronages were related to the military and young people. The latter included the Tall Ships Youth Trust, the Children’s Foundation, which operates in the north-east, City Gateway, which helps young people not in education, employment or training in London, and Power2, which tackles social exclusion.

The blanket move represents a key step in Buckingham Palace’s attempts to limit the damage to the British monarchy from the prince’s association with Epstein and his interview with BBC Two’s Newsnight last weekend in which he was widely thought to have shown insufficient concern for Epstein’s victims.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the staunchly royalist Democratic Unionist party, said on Sunday: “It was just becoming too big of a story for the royal family. It was going to overtake the monarchy if something wasn’t done. I think the right decision was taken.”

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted sex offender and financier who died in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. He had previously served 13 months in jail after being convicted in 2008 of procuring an underage girl for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute. A medical examiner declared Epstein's death a suicide.

His death came after unsealed documents in New York revealed the extent of his abuse of young women at his home in Palm Beach, New York and the Virgin Islands. An earlier attempt to prosecute him on similar charges had collapsed when authorities granted him an unusually generous deal to plead guilty to state prostitution charges in Florida.

Epstein made his name at the investment bank Bear Stearns before opening his own firm in 1982, managing money for clients with wealth in excess of $1bn. The business came with an intensive social schedule. Epstein positioned himself as a party figure in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, and courted the rich, famous and powerful across America and the world.

Epstein’s circle of friends and acquaintances has included Donald Trump; Bill Clinton; Prince Andrew; Leslie Wexner, founder of the company that owns the Victoria’s Secret lingerie brand; and many other prominent names in law, entertainment and politics.

In July 2020, his long-term confidante and personal assistant Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on charges related to Epstein's sex crimes.

After an intervention by his mother, the Queen, and his older brother, Prince Charles, Andrew last week announced he would “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” and said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”

The 59-year-old prince has insisted that claims by Virginia Giuffre that she was made to have sex with him on three occasions, including when she was 17, were false. He suggested in the Newsnight interview that a photograph of him with his arm around her waist in the London flat of his friend Ghislaine Maxwell and purportedly taken by Epstein, could have been fake.

The image was first published in the Mail on Sunday in February 2011, and this weekend the newspaper provided new details about its provenance, in a challenge to Andrew’s assertion that “you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph”.

The newspaper said Giuffre had only showed its reporter a copy of the photograph when she was tracked down in Australia and had originally been reluctant to talk. “[She then] produced the picture of Andrew from a white envelope containing a collection of photos chronicling her teenage years and travels with Epstein to New Mexico and Paris,” it said. She had already given the original to the FBI.

Andrew’s withdrawal from public life coincides with Charles’s wish for a more streamlined and cost-effective monarchy when he becomes king. Sources close to the Prince of Wales, who is on an official visit to the Solomon Islands, denied reports that he was “angry and frustrated” by the publicity his younger brother was attracting.

It was also reported that the Queen has cancelled a planned 60th birthday party for Andrew in February and has downsized it to a small family gathering. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

The prince appears to be clinging to his role with Pitch, an entrepreneurship scheme, even as high-profile business sponsors the accountancy firm KPMG, the bank Standard Chartered and the telecoms company Inmarsat all said they would not renew their financial support. Barclays, a partner of the project, ended its association on Friday.

“The duke will continue to work on Pitch and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties and outside of Buckingham Palace,” a palace spokesperson said. “We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.”

Politicians have said they may launch an investigation into the way the scheme, previously called Pitch at the Palace, was run as a private company. Nigel Mills, who was a member of the Commons public accounts committee in the previous parliament, told the Sunday Telegraph: “I am concerned about the way this undeniably good scheme has been set up because it looks like a departure from the norm.”

• This article was amended on 26 November 2019 to clarify information related to Prince Andrew’s patronage of the London Metropolitan University.


Robert Booth

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein and Newsnight: anatomy of a PR disaster
The Duke of York’s plan to block speculation over his ties to a convicted child sex offender quickly came undone

Kevin Rawlinson

20, Nov, 2019 @9:32 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew's private office to be moved out of Buckingham Palace
Duke intends to keep working on mentoring scheme despite saying he would step back from public life

Simon Murphy , Jim Waterson and Kevin Rawlinson

22, Nov, 2019 @6:34 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew faces calls to say sorry and speak to FBI
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims say they were ‘almost completely ignored’ in interview

Edward Helmore in New York, Ben Quinn and Jim Waterson

17, Nov, 2019 @8:58 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew joins Queen procession amid concern over stand-in role
Position as counsellor of state under scrutiny as fresh reports about Jeffrey Epstein scandal emerge

Jamie Grierson and Martin Pengelly

14, Sep, 2022 @5:12 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew: I thought staying with Epstein was 'honourable thing'
Royal says in BBC interview that in hindsight staying with sex offender was wrong

Aamna Mohdin

16, Nov, 2019 @9:10 AM

Article image
Prince Andrew plays prominent role in Prince Philip memorial service
Royal makes first public appearance since settling sexual assault case filed against him by Virginia Giuffre

Rachel Hall and agency

29, Mar, 2022 @4:37 PM

Article image
BBC to air interview with Prince Andrew accuser
Virginia Giuffre was interviewed for a Panorama episode that will air on Monday night

Jim Waterson and Caroline Davies

01, Dec, 2019 @6:24 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew mentor scheme at risk as firms withdraw support
Standard Chartered is latest to sever ties with initiative after royal’s BBC Epstein interview

Ben Quinn, Jim Waterson and Jedidajah Otte

19, Nov, 2019 @5:29 PM

Article image
Lawsuit is devastating blow for Prince Andrew – and the royal family
Analysis: Win or lose, sexual assault case is unprecedented chapter in royal family’s modern history

Caroline Davies

12, Jan, 2022 @3:31 PM

Article image
Prince Andrew to continue work on mentor scheme, says palace
Royal had said he was stepping down from public duties amid Jeffrey Epstein row

Ben Quinn , Esther Addley and Matthew Weaver

21, Nov, 2019 @3:06 PM