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Duke of York seen for first time after stepping down from royal duties

Andrew was seen leaving his home in Windsor the day after his bombshell announcement.

The Duke of York leaves his home in Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)
The Duke of York leaves his home in Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)

By Laura Elston and Tony Jones, PA Court Staff

The Duke of York has been seen in public for the first time after his dramatic decision to step down from official royal duties.

Andrew, who quit his life as a working royal on Wednesday evening over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was pictured leaving Royal Lodge in Berkshire.

The duke, dressed in a suit and tie, gave a wave as he drove away from his family home in Windsor Great Park.

In the aftermath of the Queen’s second son announcing he would step down from public duties for the “foreseeable future”, Huddersfield University confirmed the duke would be relinquishing his role as its chancellor.

In a statement the university said: “Due to the circumstances and in discussion with the university, he has decided to step down immediately to allow the university to appoint a successor.”

Huddersfield University Students’ Union said in response: “We know that students will welcome this decision, and the Students’ Union would like to offer our sympathy to the victims of Epstein and all those affected by sexual abuse across the world.”

Asked if the Duke of York was right to step back from public life, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on a visit to Bedfordshire: “All I can say is that it is very important that all the victims of Jeffrey Epstein get justice and the law must be done and must be seen to be done.”

A US lawyer representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims has raised the possibility of questioning the duke under oath over his relationship with Epstein.

Discussing how Andrew could become involved in any legal process, Lisa Bloom said that, as an attorney, she had “the right” to seek a statement from individuals she deemed to have “relevant information”.

The duke is to continue working on his flagship project Pitch@Palace but will do so privately without the support of Buckingham Palace, it emerged.

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The Duke is to carry on his Pitch@Palace work separate from Buckingham Palace (John Stillwell/PA)

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told the PA news agency on Thursday: “He will continue to work on Pitch but will look at how to do that outside and entirely separate from the palace.”

It is thought the duke will not have any involvement with the dozens of charities, organisations and military units he is associated with.

Graham Smith, of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, called the move “more smoke and mirrors”.

“Prince Andrew’s decision to step back is more smoke and mirrors to protect the image of the monarchy,” Mr Smith said.

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The front pages of national newspapers the day after the Duke of York suspended his royal duties (PA)

He added: “Several years ago Andrew was stripped of his trade ambassador title, but then continued to fly around the world representing this country.

“The palace needs to clarify exactly what they mean by him stepping back and explain why he isn’t stepping down.

“Otherwise, this just looks like more spin to cover royal backs than real accountability.”

In his statement, Andrew said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

Ms Bloom told BBC Breakfast: “It’s not going to be easy to subpoena someone like Prince Andrew, he’s obviously not walking down the street where a process server can just hand him a piece of paper, it’s a lot more complicated.

“If he refused to come, we may have a diplomatic situation between (the UK) and (the US). I hope it doesn’t come to that.

“I take him at his word that he says he is going to co-operate, and I hope that’s what’s going to happen.”

Pressure had been mounting on the duke in the wake of his so-called ‘car crash’ Newsnight interview, with a growing number of multimillion-pound businesses, universities and charities distancing themselves from him and Pitch@Palace.

He faced criticism for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the financier, who took his own life while in prison earlier this year awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

In the interview, the duke denied claims that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage.

PA

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