Duke intends to keep working on mentoring scheme despite saying he would step back from public life
Prince Andrew is preparing to leave his private office in Buckingham Palace as he seeks a way to maintain control of an entrepreneurial scheme he set up, despite having agreed to step back from public life.
The palace confirmed on Friday that the Duke of York intended to continue working on the [email protected] scheme, even as Barclays became the latest among a growing number of organisations to sever ties with him over his links to the convicted child sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
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, a spokesman said on Friday. We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.
The news came shortly after it emerged that the aide who orchestrated the dukes disastrous interview about his Epstein links is no longer his private secretary.
On Friday, Buckingham Palace refused to confirm the details surrounding Thirsks departure from her long-standing role. A spokesman said: We would not comment on the impact on any individual member of his team.
It follows Barclays announcement late on Friday that it was pulling its support as a major sponsor from the princes mentoring scheme. In a statement, it said: In light of the current situation, we have informed [email protected] that going forward we will, regretfully, no longer be participating in the programme. [email protected] has been historically highly successful in supporting entrepreneurs and job creation and we hope a way forward can be found that means they can continue this important work.
Earlier, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) said it had dropped Andrew as its patron, with the prince also stepping down from the same role at London Metropolitan University.
The BBC confirmed it would air a damaging Panorama interview on 2 December with Virginia Giuffre, the woman who claimed she was made to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions including when she was 17.
Giuffre, formerly called Roberts, spoke to Panorama three weeks ago for an investigation the programme has been working on for months scrutinising the princes connections with Epstein, who killed himself in August as he awaited trial on new sex trafficking charges.
But before the episode was ready to air, the prince agreed to do a sit-down interview with rival BBC programme Newsnight.
The interview with Emily Maitlis, during which the royal denied claims he slept with Giuffre and failed to express sympathy to Epsteins victims, prompted an outpouring of criticism. He told the Newsnight presenter he only went to stay with Epstein in New York in 2010, after Epstein had served jail time for child sex offences, to inform the financier that he could no longer associate with him.
The interview led to his suspension from duties by the Queen. On Wednesday, after days of unrelenting pressure as a slew of companies cut ties with the prince, the Queen gave permission for Andrew to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future. He said he would be willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.
Thirsks position in pushing for the interview is understood to have been at odds with Jason Stein, the aide who left just a fortnight after he was brought in to assist with managing the princes reputation.
Reports suggested Thirsk would take up a role as the chief executive of [email protected], where she has already served as a director since 2014. [email protected] did not respond to a request by the Guardian for comment.
RPO distanced itself from Andrew after its management met the royals office on Thursday afternoon. In a statement released on Friday, a spokesman said: At a subsequent meeting of the RPO board, it was decided that the orchestra should part company with its patron, with immediate effect. The RPO would like to express its gratitude to His Royal Highness for his support of the orchestra over the past 15 years.
It followed London Metropolitan University announcing that the prince had resigned with immediate effect as its patron. The universitys board of governors will consult widely, in particular with our students, about whether and how we replace the duke with any senior honorary roles, it said.
On Friday, the Queen was spotted horse riding with Prince Andrew in the grounds of Windsor in what one royal expert said was an apparent show of support to her second son. Ingrid Seward, the editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said: Hes been through the wringer, hes thoroughly humiliated, hes had to step down, but that doesnt mean his mother doesnt care about him any more. Its probably giving a message that whatever hes done, hes still my son, hes still a member of the royal family.