Prince Andrew was last night forced to pull out of a work junket to Bahrain this weekend after being persuaded by his family that it was ‘not a good idea’ following this week’s dramatic events.
He had planned to fly to the Middle East to attend an event connected with his Pitch@Palace initiative – less than 72 hours after being forced to retire from royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
But hours after the Daily Mail contacted Buckingham Palace to say it was about to reveal details of Andrew’s foreign jaunt, sources said he had decided to cancel it.
Prince Andrew (pictured leaving Buckingham Palace today) was told to cancel his trip to Bahrain amid the controversy over his friendship with Epstein
Pictured: Sarah Ferguson arrives at Buckingham Palace, central London, today after coming out in support of Prince Andrew in light of the backlash over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein
Prince Andrew arrives at Buckingham Palace and gets out of his Bentley around noon today before heading to a Pitch@Palace meeting in Dubai after the Queen sacked him from royal duties
The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace this afternoon after carrying out investitures and heads to Windsor amid the furious backlash about her son’s friendship with Epstein
‘He was persuaded by his family that it was not a good idea in light of this week’s events,’ they said.
Despite the setback, he seemed upbeat yesterday. Dressed in a suit and tie, he gave a wave and a smile as he drove away from his family home in Windsor Great Park.
Later his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson was also all smiles as she was seen arriving at Buckingham Palace.
Furore over Andrew’s former friendship with paedophile Epstein continued yesterday as:
■The duke walked away from some of his most beloved charities and organisations as he began the humiliating process of withdrawing from public life;
■The Outward Bound Trust said he had stepped down as patron while the University of Huddersfield said he had resigned as Chancellor;
■Lawyers for Epstein’s victims said they planned to subpoena Andrew, raising the prospect he could be questioned under oath about what he knows.
The Duchess of York is pictured with Ghislane Maxwell, the girlfriend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, on 5th Avenue in New York City in 2003
Sarah Ferguson (pictured at Aberdeen Airport in August) has come out in defence of Andrew despite him being mired in controversy over his friendship with Epstein
The prince announced on Wednesday evening his intention to ‘step back from public duties for the foreseeable future’ after he was widely criticised for his comments during a BBC Newsnight interview.
He was accused of showing a lack of empathy for Epstein’s victims and no remorse over his friendship with the financier. But yesterday’s cancelled plans to go to Bahrain proved, however, that he still clearly plans to continue working on private initiatives.
A source close to Andrew put a positive spin on this week’s dramatic events, saying: ‘Despite everything the duke is getting a lot of support. The entrepreneurs he helps have been tremendously sweet and kind. This really feels like a witch-hunt. He’d been hounded about this since 2011 non stop. So he’s very positive about it actually. He can concentrate on clearing his name.’
The Duke leaves the Royal Lodge family home at Windsor Great Park in Berkshire this morning after he stepped down from royal duties yesterday
Losing his patronage of the Outward Bound Trust will be a major blow to the duke, who only took over the role earlier this year, succeeding his father, the Duke of Edinburgh. The charity helps disadvantaged children through outdoor activities. The University of Huddersfield had earlier stood by the duke but announced he was stepping down last night following an outcry by students.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions also announced yesterday that the duke was no longer its president. Andrew is patron of around 200 charities and groups and more resignations are now likely to follow.
It has been made clear that Andrew is very keen to keep his Pitch@Palace initiative, a Dragon’s Den-style scheme which helps find funding and provides mentoring for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs which he founded in 2014. The project is said to have created 6,000 jobs over give years and was, one courtier said, one of the ‘few’ real success stories of Andrew’s roller-coaster royal career.
He was fighting ‘tooth and nail’ to keep it – hence his defiance in initially planning to travel to Bahrain this weekend.
Royal officials confirmed yesterday that he would continue working on it but made clear that he would do so without the support of Buckingham Palace. While Andrew’s decision to step back from public life means he will no longer be able to pick up the bill for expensive travel from taxpayers, he is still likely to pocket as much as £250,000 a year, the sum he is rumoured to receive privately from the Queen to run his office.
Last Friday, Sarah came out in support of Andrew with a statement posted on social media in which she praised his ‘sense of honour and truth’
Andrew appears to hold Jeffrey Epstein’s victim Virginia Roberts, then 17, by the waist as the sex offender’s lover Ghislaine Maxwell looks on in 2001 in London
Unlike the Sovereign Grant, which is government money, Andrew’s annual upkeep is paid from the Privy Purse, which is provided by the Duchy of Lancaster – land and assets owned by the Queen.
■More than half the public believe the prince did not tell the truth about his relationship with Epstein during his interview, a poll found. Just six per cent of the 1,600 adults surveyed thought he was being honest, according to the YouGov survey for The Times. Another 43 per cent said they did not know.
These are the 35 businesses that support the duke’s project Pitch@Palace. Ten have now quit – five businesses (Advertising Week Europe, KPMG, Aon, Standard Chartered and Gravity Road) and five academic institutions (Bond University in Queensland, Melbourne’s RMIT, University of Wollongong, Murdoch University in Perth and Fondation Rideau Hall in Canada). The Stelios Foundation and the Chinese Li Ka Shing Foundation are the only two standing by him
The Duke of York speaks to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in an interview shown on Saturday which led to a furious backlash about the prince’s friendship with Epstein
Andrew made the bombshell statement about stepping back yesterday after mounting pressure after his interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
How Duke of York’s meetings with Jeffrey Epstein have brought him decades of trouble since 1990s
Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell. Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein ‘infrequently’, adding ‘probably no more than only once or twice a year’.
Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.
Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse. Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an ‘orgy’ on his private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park. Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.
The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.
Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: ‘Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
‘I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.’ In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace said the allegations are ‘categorically untrue’. Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.
Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts. The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001. Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having ‘a number of inconsistencies’ and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.
Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is ‘appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes’. Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: ‘At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.’
On November 16, the prince gave a ‘disastrous’ BBC interview in which he spoke about his friendship with Epstein and addressed allegations of his own sexual conduct. He faced a barrage of criticism following his television appearance, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with Epstein’s victims.
During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy. The duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.
The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.