Andrew (L) Jeffrey Epstein
Prince Andrew is to withdraw from scores of charities in a move that appeared designed to protect the monarchy from further humiliation over his association with Jeffrey Epstein.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Sunday that the Duke of York was “standing back from all his patronages” but indicated he still hoped to return to a public role at some point by saying the move was only temporary.
The prince said last week that he was willing to help “any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations [into Epstein] if required”. But the fallout from his friendship with the convicted child sex offender, who is believed to have killed himself in a New York prison in August, has already seen him lose or withdraw from patronages with English National Ballet, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Outward Bound Trust.
He was dropped as chancellor of the University of Huddersfield after pressure from students, who said he was unfit for the role because of his “association with a known paedophile”.
The announcement that the duke was stepping back from all of his 230 patronages came after he resigned as patron of London Metropolitan University, following a meeting of its governors on Tuesday. The university had said it opposed “all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking”.
The Foundation for Liver Research also said its trustees would consider his position, and Royal Portrush golf club, which highlighted “the trauma and distress suffered by the victims of Jeffrey Epstein” said its council would discuss Andrew’s role at its forthcoming meeting. It was also reported on Sunday that the private Whitgift school in Croydon was considering removing him as patron.
Many of the prince’s patronages were related to the military and young people. The latter included the Tall Ships Youth Trust, the Children’s Foundation, which operates in the north-east, City Gateway, which helps young people not in education, employment or training in London, and Power2, which tackles social exclusion.
The blanket move represents a key step in Buckingham Palace’s attempts to limit the damage to the British monarchy from the prince’s association with Epstein and his interview with BBC Two’s Newsnight last weekend in which he was widely thought to have shown insufficient concern for Epstein’s victims.
Arlene Foster, the leader of the staunchly royalist Democratic Unionist party, said on Sunday: “It was just becoming too big of a story for the royal family. It was going to overtake the monarchy if something wasn’t done. I think the right decision was taken.”