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Prince Andrew to continue work on entrepreneur initiative, despite scandal
TORONTO -- Prince Andrew will continue to work on his entrepreneurial mentoring initiative, despite his announcement a day earlier that he would step back from public duties amid the ongoing scandal concerning his association with a convicted sex offender.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace confirmed the Duke of York would continue his involvement with Pitch@Palace, which supports budding entrepreneurs by providing them with contacts and advice. The project was founded by Prince Andrew in 2014.
“The Duke will continue to work on Pitch@Palace but will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties and Buckingham Palace,” Youki Crump, a senior communications officer for Buckingham Palace, said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca on Thursday.
“Naturally there will be a transition period while this takes place.”
The announcement comes a day after the Queen’s second son made headlines when he released a statement announcing his departure from public life in light of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
“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 organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” his statement read.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
The Duke of York added that he was willing to help any law enforcement agency with their investigations “if required.”
Prince Andrew’s involvement in the scandal has resulted in a number of charitable backers severing ties with him.
Earlier this week, KPMG, a professional services provider, the bank Standard Chartered, and Murdoch University, among others, said they would not renew their sponsorship of Pitch@Palace.
On Wednesday, the Rideau Hall Foundation said it would not renew its agreement with the project.
Several other businesses, charities, and educational institutions associated with the duke have distanced themselves from him in recent days.
The 59-year-old prince has become embroiled in controversy since his years-long friendship with the American billionaire financier came to light. Epstein was convicted in 2008 of sex crimes involving teenage girls. In the summer of 2019, he was arrested again on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors, but he died by suicide in his jail cell in August before he could be convicted.
Prince Andrew has vehemently denied accusations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and slept with the duke when she was 17. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In an attempt to clarify his relationship with Epstein, the Duke gave a poorly received interview to BBC’s Newsnight program on Saturday. His responses were widely criticized and he was faulted for not showing enough sympathy to Epstein’s victims.
The BBC interview appeared to only add fuel to the fire with the scandal dominating headlines in the U.K. and around the world.
In his statement announcing his withdrawal from public duties, Prince Andrew said he continues to “unequivocally regret” his association with Epstein and that he deeply sympathized with the victims.
Royal historian Christopher Warwick said he’s not sure the duke will be able to recover from this blow to his reputation.
“He might not return to public life,” Warwick told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday. “Unless he’s completely and utterly exonerated when this matter is finally, finally resolved, how does he make a comeback? How do you rehabilitate somebody who is so tarnished?”