This evening, a statement was issued by The Duke of York confirming that he will “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future”. This comes after widespread criticism of his interview regarding his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
In his statement, Prince Andrew says that he asked The Queen for permission to take this largely unprecedented move. The Duke also acknowledges that his “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”.
Several backers of Andrew’s patronages have already severed ties with those organisations, including KPMG and Standard Chartered, who have ended their sponsorships of Pitch@Palace. Other organisations, including the University of Huddersfield and London Metropolitan, have announced that they will be reconsidering their links with The Duke of York.
The Queen’s son also expressed regret for his association with Epstein and sympathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims. Following his interview, many criticised The Duke for not acknowledging Epstein’s victims.
The statement tried to correct this: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. 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. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”
The move also raises questions about the future of Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. While neither are working Royals, they are both associated with various patronages and organisations. Outward Bound UK, for instance, will have a meeting next week to discuss Andrew’s position as patron; Beatrice is also on the Board of Trustees and has been asked to not attend the meeting. Prince Philip was Patron of Outward Bound for over 65 years before passing the role to his son in March of this year. Princess Beatrice is also due to marry next year, and we still do not know if her wedding will be shown on television like her sister’s 2018 nuptials.
There is also uncertainty regarding Prince Andrew’s own future. It is not known if he will continue to receive public funding, from the Privy Purse, whether this move is temporary or permanent and what will become of his patronages. As of this evening, The Duke’s page on the official Royal Family UK website has been updated with a link to his statement and the message “These pages will be updated in due course”.
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