EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Prince Andrew’s Dragons’ Den-style project Pitch@Palace makes £1.2million profit

No one has a good word to say in public about Prince Andrew these days, but behind the scenes he’s quietly demonstrating his business prowess.

I can disclose that the Dragons’ Den-style project he created that brokers deals between tech start-ups and wealthy investors has now exceeded £1 million in profits.

Pitch@Palace Global increased its ongoing profits to £1.2 million in the 12 months to March last year, according to figures published this week.

Pitch@Palace Global increased its ongoing profits to £1.2 million in the 12 months to March last year, according to figures published this week. Pictured: Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

Pitch@Palace Global increased its ongoing profits to £1.2 million in the 12 months to March last year, according to figures published this week. Pictured: Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

Pitch@Palace Global increased its ongoing profits to £1.2 million in the 12 months to March last year, according to figures published this week. Pictured: Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

The Duke of York had announced four months previously that he would step back from royal duties.

The figure represents a £260,000 increase from 2019. The scheme was set up in 2017 with Andrew listed as a ‘person of significant control’.

No turnover or staff costs are reported, though accounts filed at Companies House report an average monthly number of employees was 15, up from 14 in 2019.

This week, the business moved to a new registered address in High Holborn, London.

Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah, with whom he still shares Royal Lodge, Windsor, has been demonstrating her own enterprise by embarking on a string of new projects including writing racy novels for Mills & Boon.

A big relaunch for Pitch@Palace had been planned for this spring, but a spokesman tells me it’s on hold until the pandemic is over.

He adds: ‘However, as the company report and accounts demonstrate, it continues to be a commercially successful enterprise that has supported more than 1,040-plus alumni at 156 events from 64 countries globally and it will be relaunched in due course once its future direction and strategy has been determined.’

Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham PalaceDuke of York Pitch at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham PalaceDuke of York Pitch at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

Prince Andrew as he hosts a Pitch@Palace event at Buckingham PalaceDuke of York Pitch at Buckingham Palace in June 2019

It’s unclear how closely involved the Queen’s second son will be.

A source at the project tells me: ‘The Duke will remain as the founder of the business but the company is taking this time to conduct a review of its structure and governance, including to what extent, if any, he continues his involvement in its day-to-day running.’

The FBI still wants to question Andrew over his close friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on further charges.

Pressure on Andrew, 60, intensified following the arrest in the U.S. of his close friend, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

The smart set’s talking about… Why all bets are off for going to Ascot this year 

The Duchess of Cambridge at Royal Ascot in 2019

The Duchess of Cambridge at Royal Ascot in 2019

The Duchess of Cambridge at Royal Ascot in 2019

And it’s orf! I hear the Queen’s favourite sporting and social event, Royal Ascot, is to be closed to spectators for a second successive year.

‘An announcement is imminent,’ says my man with the top hat and tails.

Ascot Racecourse chief executive Guy Henderson had written to Royal Enclosure members last month saying he hoped the race meeting would still go ahead but with social-distancing and ‘reduced capacity’.

Last summer, the Queen, who usually arrives each day of the race meeting in a carriage procession from Windsor Castle alongside other members of the Royal Family, wrote the introduction to the racecards, even though she watched on television from home.

The news will disappoint horse-mad royals including the Duchess of Cambridge (right), who wore an elegant light blue Elie Saab lace blouse and matching tulle skirt for her last appearance in 2019.

With Glastonbury already called off, Royal Ascot was one of the few social highlights left to look forward to this year.

Duchess offers a shot in the arm

Wouldn’t this be a glorious incentive to receive a jab?

The Duchess of Rutland has offered to transform her family’s magnificent home, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, into a Covid vaccination centre.

The Duchess of Rutland has offered to transform her family’s magnificent home, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, into a Covid vaccination centre

The Duchess of Rutland has offered to transform her family’s magnificent home, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, into a Covid vaccination centre

The Duchess of Rutland has offered to transform her family’s magnificent home, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, into a Covid vaccination centre

‘One of the things that has blown me away is how we’ve suddenly seen the cathedrals opening up their doors to allow people to go and have jabs,’ says the Duchess, Emma Manners.

‘If anyone wanted to come and do that here, the doors are here to be opened.

‘We haven’t been approached but would support anything.’

Family tributes for Lady de Rothschild

Hailed a ‘style icon and champion of art and design’ by her family, Victoria, Lady de Rothschild, died this week aged 71.

Hailed a ‘style icon and champion of art and design’ by her family, Victoria, Lady de Rothschild, died this week aged 71.

Hailed a ‘style icon and champion of art and design’ by her family, Victoria, Lady de Rothschild, died this week aged 71.

Hailed a ‘style icon and champion of art and design’ by her family, Victoria, Lady de Rothschild, died this week aged 71.

The elegant American ex-wife of banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Victoria was a vice-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

‘She died at home with her family by her side,’ a spokesman says.

The mother of adventurer David, philanthropist Anthony and film producer Jessica, she lost some of her huge divorce settlement when she was conned into investing in Bernie Madoff’s £40 billion fraud.

The Queen gives working from home the royal seal of approval

Working from home has won the royal seal of approval.

I hear the Queen has given staff permission to continue ‘flexible working’ even after the crisis is over.

The news is confirmed in a job advertisement on the royal website for a senior employee communications assistant which stresses that ‘as we look ahead, more flexible ways of working are likely to continue post pandemic’.

Let’s hope the royals will, however, soon be out and about again.

Her Majesty is said to have once remarked: ‘I have to be seen to be believed.’ 

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