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Duke of York ‘standing back’ from all patronages amid interview backlash

The royal was criticised over a perceived lack of empathy for the victims of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke of York speaking on Newsnight about his links to Jeffrey Epstein (Mark Harrison/BBC/PA)
The Duke of York speaking on Newsnight about his links to Jeffrey Epstein (Mark Harrison/BBC/PA)

By Padraig Collins, PA

The Duke of York is standing back from all of the organisations of which he is a patron after the backlash which followed an interview he gave to BBC’s Newsnight programme.

After the interview, Andrew faced criticism for showing a lack of empathy towards the victims of his late friend, convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The duke was also criticised for what was seen by many as a lack of remorse over his friendship with Epstein, who took his own life in prison earlier this year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

He will be stepping back from public duty and temporarily standing back from all his patronages A spokeswoman for the Duke of York

Andrew also faces the prospect of Virginia Giuffre – an alleged Epstein victim who claims she had under-age sex with the duke, which he strenuously denies – being interviewed on BBC’s Panorama programme early in December.

Actor John Challis, best known for playing Boycie in the BBC comedy series Only Fools And Horses, has defended the duke saying he should be “given a chance to actually make things better”.

Speaking on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show the performer said: “I think the poor man’s made an awful lot of mistakes which he now regrets, do you know, obviously.

“And what he’s done, retiring and so on from the public gaze, I think is exactly what should happen but I think he should be given a break because after all nothing’s been proved, has it, there is no proof.”

Over the weekend, it was reported the duke had resigned from his role with his flagship business project Pitch@Palace after days of speculation about his future with the initiative he founded.

High-profile business sponsors KPMG, Standard Chartered and Inmarsat, a British satellite telecommunications company, all said they would not renew their financial support for Pitch while Barclays, a partner of the project, ended its association on Friday.

A spokeswoman told the PA news agency: “The duke has over 230 patronages.

“He will be stepping back from public duty and temporarily standing back from all his patronages.

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The Duke of York leaves his home in Windsor, Berkshire, the day after he suspended his work with his charities, organisations and military units because of the fallout from his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein (Steve Parsons/PA)

“The duke will continue to work on Pitch and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties, and outside of Buckingham Palace.

“We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported the Queen has cancelled a party she was to host for Andrew’s 60th birthday on February 19.

There were plans for a formal reception for Andrew and the charities he was a patron of.

When the Prince of Wales turned 60 in 2008, he was given a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park and a party with more than 400 guests including European royalty and members of his charity.

PA

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