Buckingham Palace today confirmed that Prince Andrew will continue to work on Pitch@Palace tech entrepreneurs initiative because it is a private venture.
The Duke of York has faced a barrage of firms and other organisations terminating or reviewing their association with the initiative after his BBC interview on Saturday.
The announcement comes after Andrew said he would step back from public duties for the ‘foreseeable future’, in an unprecedented move for a royal in modern times.
Andrew speaks to an audience at a Pitch@Palace event in Manchester in September 2015
Andrew made the bombshell statement last night after mounting pressure following his interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Barclays said it was concerned about the situation involving the Queen’s 59-year-old son and was keeping its involvement with Pitch@Palace under review.
In addition, telecoms giant BT warned that it would only continue to back digital skills award programme iDEA if Andrew was dropped as patron.
Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered joined accounting firm KPMG in deciding not to renew its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace.
After the palace’s announcement, a source at one of the sponsors told MailOnline: ‘We don’t believe that the position the palace have put out this morning is tenable.
Andrew with his mother the Queen at a Pitch@Palace event at St James’s Palace in 2016
‘And we think that if this half measure fails to revive the reputation of the programme then we will simply walk away from our existing contract.’
Prince Andrew will be ‘out of the public eye for some time’
The Duke of York could be spending a very long period away from public duties due his damaged reputation and questionable judgement, a royal expert has said.
The future holds uncertainty for Andrew who has suspended his work with his charities, organisations and military units because of the fallout from his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine said: ‘I don’t think Andrew will come back, when he says he’s going to step down for the foreseeable future I think he means for a long time.’
She added his reputation would always be tainted because of his association with Epstein: ‘He can’t be exonerated because we know he was involved with Epstein.
‘I’m afraid this might forever be hanging over him.’
With the US authorities still investigating Epstein despite his suicide in a jail, the issue of his friendship with Andrew is likely to make headlines for months to come.
But Andrew remains a member of the royal family and could still attend major national state events – that are separate from his personal public duties.
These include appearances on Buckingham Palace’s balcony after the Trooping the Colour ceremony or the Remembrance Sunday service at Whitehall’s Cenotaph.
Since quitting as the UK’s trade envoy in 2011, the duke has built up Pitch@Palace, in which he helps to put would-be entrepreneurs in touch with investors and mentors.
A source close to Andrew told BBC News he would continue to be involved in the initiative, which does not provide any funding to start-up firms. But with the duke the main draw for wealthy investors, its future looks uncertain.
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said: ‘Andrew’s office at Buckingham Palace will go. There are lots of… secretaries who have been working hard there for years.
‘He is patron of a lot of charities and there is a considerable amount of work, but I think the office will be shut down.
‘I fear this is also the end for Pitch@Palace, at least in its current guise. This disaster is going to affect a lot of staff.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman told MailOnline: ‘The Duke will continue to work on Pitch@Palace but will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties, and outside of the Palace.
‘Naturally there will be a transition period while this takes place.’
A growing number of multimillion-pound businesses, universities and charities have distanced themselves from him amid the fallout from the Newsnight programme.
Royal Portrush Golf Club, of which the Duke of York is a patron, said it would monitor the investigative process.
The host of this year’s Open Championship said there were no schedule plans for Andrew to return to the club.
‘The allegations surrounding Prince Andrew, and especially the trauma and distress suffered by the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, is a matter of deep regret,’ a club statement said.
The Duke of York holds an iPad as he invites the audience at a Pitch@Palace event in London to sing happy birthday via the Facetime app to his daughter Princess Eugenie in March 2015
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
‘Royal Portrush will continue to monitor the ongoing investigative process. There are no scheduled plans for him to return to the club.
‘The council of Royal Portrush is acutely aware of the widespread public concern about these allegations and Prince Andrew’s decision to step away from public duties will be discussed at our next meeting.’
There have been ongoing discussions within the family about the current situation with Andrew talking to the Queen and Prince of Wales, it is understood.
The duke met with the Queen yesterday, visiting her at Buckingham Palace before his decision was announced.
The duke, in a statement released on his parents’ 72nd wedding anniversary, said that the Queen had given her permission for him to bow out of royal duties.
The Duke of York speaks to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in an interview shown on Saturday
Andrew made the bombshell statement about stepping back yesterday after mounting pressure after his interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
He said he was willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency, and expressed sympathy with Epstein’s victims – which he had been accused of not showing in his BBC interview.
The 35 businesses that sponsor Andrew’s charity – and the companies now pulling out after BBC disaster
Advertising Week Europe
Melbourne’s RMIT University
Fondation Rideau Hall
University of Wollongong
Standing by Andrew
Li Ka Shing Foundation
Yet to respond
Bank of China
Business Horizon International Group
China Construction bank
Hult business school
Royal Academy of Engineering
Andrew said: ‘It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.
‘Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.
‘I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
‘His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
‘I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency.’
Andrew was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life while in prison earlier this year.
In the Newsnight interview, the duke denied claims that he slept with Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage under US law.
He said the alleged 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.
Ms Giuffre said the same alleged sexual liaison began with the duke sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.
But the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. He said he had no recollection of meeting Miss Roberts.
When asked by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis if he regretted the ‘whole friendship with Epstein’, the duke replied: ‘Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.’
The duke cancelled a visit to flood-ravaged communities in South Yorkshire on Tuesday.
London Metropolitan University was considering the duke’s role as its patron, while a student panel at Huddersfield University passed a motion to lobby Andrew to resign as its chancellor.