Prince Andrew to attend juniors golf event at Royal Portrush despite objections over Epstein scandal
Prince Andrew is set to attend a junior golfing competition at Royal Portrush this week, despite the objections of some members at the club.
There was speculation the Duke of York may not attend the event as a result of the ongoing controversy surrounding abuse facilitated by the duke’s late friend, paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that Prince Andrew would be attending the event as scheduled and "his programme has not changed".
It is understood that Royal Portrush’s committee had been warned that it would be inappropriate for the prince to attend the four-day event.
The annual Duke Of York Young Champions Trophy event is being hosted at Royal Portrush from Monday til Thursday.
The Times had reported that members at Royal Portrush did not want to be associated with the duke at the under 18s event and feared it would attract negative media attention.
Prince Andrew is a patron at Royal Portrush and attended the Open Championship in July.
One Royal Portrush member, based in London, told the Times that golfers felt uneasy over the duke's visit.
"The golf club had a hugely successful Open in the summer and the club's standing is high," the member said.
"Of course, no one wants to disinvite the duke, but maybe it would be best for everyone if he decided he wasn't able to come."
As part of the event Prince Andrew is set to meet volunteers, supporters and representatives from local businesses, host the tournament dinner, attend the tournament and present prizes.
"The Duke of York has a full programme in Northern Ireland as founder of The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy," a Royal Spokesperson said.
"HRH will undertake a number of engagements related to the Tournament, at which there will be 66 sportsmen and women from 35 countries."
Prince Andrew is set to spend several days in Northern Ireland as part of his visit, but Sky News had reported that an invitation to an opening ceremony at Portrush train station had been withdrawn as a result of the ongoing controversy.
A Translink spokesperson said: “We have postponed the official station opening to a more suitable time.”
The duke, who has strenuously denied claims that he forced a woman to have sex with him when she was 17 years old, has been fiercely criticised over his relationship with Epstein.
On Saturday he attended a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bruges, his first major international event since the scandal
Disgraced financier Epstein died in an apparent suicide while he was in prison awaiting trial for a string of child sex trafficking charges. One of his alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, has claimed that she slept with the Duke of York three times.
Her lawyer David Boies has called on Andrew to travel to the US and answer questions under oath and be subject to cross-examination. “Anybody can deny things in a printed statement,” he added.
Royal Portrush Golf Club has been contacted in relation to this story.
Belfast Telegraph Digital