Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties

(BBC) – The Duke of York is stepping back from royal duties for the “foreseeable future” due to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

Prince Andrew said his links with the convicted sex offender had become a “major disruption” to the Royal Family.

In a statement, he said he deeply sympathised with Epstein’s victims and “everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure”.

It comes as the duke has faced a growing backlash after a BBC interview.

Earlier, a letter written to the Times newspaper by Buckingham Palace cast doubt on when the duke first met Epstein.

The 2011 letter says they met in the early 1990s, not in 1999 as Prince Andrew said in his BBC interview.

BT also became the latest in a series of organisations to distance themselves from Prince Andrew, following the interview.

In a statement, BT said it had been working with iDEA – which helps people develop digital, business and employment skills – since 2017 but “our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York”.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage,” a spokeswoman said.

In his interview with the BBC’s Newsnight on Saturday, the duke said he met Epstein “met through his girlfriend back in 1999” – a reference to Ghislaine Maxwell, who had been a friend of Prince Andrew since she was at university.

The 2011 letter was published after the Times reported on the existence of a photo of the prince with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, then known as Roberts, who would later testify that she had been forced to have sex with him.

The duke has always denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)Image copyrightVIRGINIA ROBERTS
Image captionThe duke was pictured with Ms Giuffre in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

The duke said he had asked the Queen if he could step back from public duties, and she had 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.”

He said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

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