Duke of York is to step back from public duties

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The Queen has given permission for the Duke of York to ‘step back from public duties for the foreseeable future’ amid criticism over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the duke said in a statement. 

Prince Andrew this evening issued a statement saying it had become clear to him that his friendship with the billionaire paedophile had caused ‘major disruption’ to the Royal Family’s work. 

He also said that he is willing to help ‘any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations’ into the sex offender, who killed himself in prison while facing sex trafficking charges. 

Pictured: Andrew leaves Buckingham Palace after spending the afternoon there behind a desk on Tuesday - the first time he had been seen since his BBC interview

Pictured: Andrew leaves Buckingham Palace after spending the afternoon there behind a desk on Tuesday - the first time he had been seen since his BBC interview

Pictured: Andrew leaves Buckingham Palace after spending the afternoon there behind a desk on Tuesday – the first time he had been seen since his BBC interview

It comes after the Duke was today seen for the first time since his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis on Saturday about Epstein which caused a furious public backlash.

He was forced to cancel a visit to the flood-hit towns of Fishlake and Stainforth, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, yesterday. A source said his trip – which was not publicised in advance – was scrapped as a result of the fall-out.

The Duke had told Maitlis in his appearance that he did not have sex with Virginia Roberts, who says she slept with him when she was 17. 

Prince Andrew (pictured during his interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC's Newsnight) is facing a furious backlash over his relationship with Epstein

Prince Andrew (pictured during his interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC's Newsnight) is facing a furious backlash over his relationship with Epstein

Prince Andrew (pictured during his interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight) is facing a furious backlash over his relationship with Epstein

Ms Roberts, now Mrs Giuffre, was trafficked by Epstein and picture shows the prince stood with her in 2001. Prince Andrew told Maitlis he had met Epstein through the since-disgraced financier’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, ‘back in 1999’, and it has been suggested that it is her London house in which he was pictured with Roberts.  

But a letter written to The Times newspaper in March 2011 by the Duke’s then-private secretary Alastair Watson suggests he may have met Epstein years earlier.

The duke denies meeting Virginia (together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview

The duke denies meeting Virginia (together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview

Pictured: Andrew walking in New York with Epstein following his conviction for sex offences

Pictured: Andrew walking in New York with Epstein following his conviction for sex offences

The duke denies meeting Virginia (left, together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview (pictured, right, Andrew and Epstein in New York after Epstein had finished his prison sentence for sex offences)

Major Watson, who spent nine years in the role of Andrew’s private secretary, was writing to the newspaper countering claims the duke was friends with Saif Gaddafi.

But, in a now key passage, he wrote: ‘There has been widespread comment on the duke’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

‘The duke has known Mr Epstein since being introduced to him in the early 1990s. The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the duke are without foundation.’

The duke denied he slept with Ms Roberts 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 the picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when she was teenager. 

Five multi-million pound businesses have cut ties with Prince Andrew’s Dragons’ Den-inspired charity and three more are now considering dumping the crisis-hit Royal since the interview aired. 

The University of Huddersfield is the only organisation to vocally back their Chancellor – but this has sparked insurrection among students who are lobbying Andrew to resign with a ‘Not my Chancellor’ campaign on campus and a major vote later this week. 

And London Metropolitan University told MailOnline this afternoon they will review whether to keep Andrew as a patron at its next Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, November 26.  

How Duke of York’s annual meetings with Epstein including after he was sent to jail caused Prince Andrew decades of trouble 

He was pictured leaving Buckingham Palace last night, his first appearance since the interview

He was pictured leaving Buckingham Palace last night, his first appearance since the interview

Jeffrey Epstein died in custody earlier this year

Jeffrey Epstein died in custody earlier this year

Prince Andrew (pictured, left, leaving Buckingham Palace last night) may have met Jeffrey Epstein nearly three decades ago, a newly-unearthed letter suggests

– 1999

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’.

– 2000

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.

– 2001

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.

– 2008

Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

– 2010

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.

– 2011

The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.

– 2015

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.

– 2019

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.