Wednesday 20 November 2019 7:07 pm

Prince Andrew steps back from Royal duties but will continue business role

PRINCE Andrew last night said he will step back from Royal duties as corporate sponsors continued to sever ties with his entrepreneurship schemes following his widely criticised BBC interview.

The announcement from the palace came hours after two more FTSE 100 companies abandoned the prince amid the fallout from his Newsnight grilling over links to the late billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

City A.M. understands however that the Duke will continue his work with the Pitch@Palace entrepreneurship initiative despite firms distancing themselves from their association with the programme.

Read more: BT and Inmarsat latest to abandon Prince

Last night Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, confirmed the Queen had accepted his request to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future”  after days of negative headlines for the royal and the many private and charitable organisations with which he has links.

He said: “it has become clear to me over the last few days the circumstances relating to my former association to Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many charities and organisations that I support”.

Satellite manufacturer Inmarsat followed Standard Chartered and KPMG in pulling the plug on continuing support for Pitch@Palace, while BT said it would not work with skills firm Idea as long as the Duke remained a patron.

A source close to Inmarsat confirmed to City A.M. that the firm had withdrawn its support. 

BT distanced itself further, saying that its dealings had been “with its executive directors, not its patron, the Duke of York” but a spokesman said they hoped to work further with Idea “in the event of a change in their patronage.”

The firms joined the growing number of businesses, charities and academic institutions to distance themselves from the Duke of York in light of questions over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. The infamous financier killed himself in prison earlier this year. 

On Tuesday, Advertising Week Europe and tech company Gravity Road joined Standard Chartered in ending their association with the Pitch@Palace initiative, a mentoring programme which connects entrepreneurs with investors. 

Founding partner KPMG was the first to announce it had terminated its involvement with the scheme. 

Despite a source close to Pitch@Palace stressing it was ‘business as usual’ speculation will naturally increase about the long-term future of the programme after a wave of adverse publicity.

City A.M. also understands that a group of entrepreneurs who have been involved with the scheme were attempting last night to find support for a statement in support of the initiative.

Main image credit: Getty