Leading businesses and charities began to desert Prince Andrew last night over the Epstein scandal.
On another hugely damaging day for the Duke of York, accountancy firm KPMG said it was protecting its reputation by ending sponsorship of his business start-up project.
Insurance giant Aon asked for its name be removed from the scheme’s website and drugs maker Astrazeneca said it was reviewing its relationship.
Prince Andrew (left, during a 2015 Pitch@Palace meeting and, right, in Phuket with supermodel Normandie White) is facing a backlash over his Epstein interview
Prince Andrew (pictured during his interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight) is facing a furious backlash over his relationship with Epstein
The Duke of York, pictured at a Pall Mall party alongside model Sally Huxley, has denied that he likes to party
A string of major companies and charities are also examining their links with Andrew after his extraordinary TV interview on Saturday.
The Outward Bound Trust, which has the prince’s daughter Beatrice as a trustee, is holding a special meeting this week to discuss the issue.
Andrew appeared on BBC Newsnight to answer questions about his relationship with Epstein, a paedophile billionaire who killed himself in jail.
Prince who doesn’t like to ‘party’
In his BBC interview, Prince Andrew claimed he had ‘never really partied’ – and is averse to public displays of affection – as he rebutted allegations he had sex with Virginia Roberts.
But a number of images have resurfaced, showing him letting his hair down at wild parties and frolicking with several glamorous young women. On BBC’s Newsnight special, the Duke of York insisted that he had no idea why he had been dubbed the ‘party prince’.
He said: ‘I don’t know why I’ve collected that title because I don’t … I never have really partied.’ He added: ‘I was single for quite a long time in the early 80s but after I got married I was very happy and I’ve never really felt the need to go and party and certainly going to Jeffrey [Epstein]’s was not about partying, absolutely not.’
He also hinted that the controversial 2001 photograph of him holding 17-year-old Miss Roberts around the waist might be fake as he was not ‘one to hug’. He said: ‘I’m terribly sorry but if I, as a member of the Royal Family, and I have a photograph taken and I take very, very few photographs, I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do.’
But footage and snaps of the dishevelled prince at parties, some without his suit jacket and with his shirt untucked, would suggest otherwise.
The duke can be seen at several soirees in the late 2000s on the French Riviera partying with women. He was pictured in July 2007 at a party in Saint-Tropez embracing a number of women including socialite Chris Von Aspen, who he holds by the waist.
Another snap shows him holding the back of her head with his fingers in her blonde hair. At a different party on the same trip he is seen holding Canadian socialite Pascale Bourbeau with one hand on her lower back while she puts her arm around his neck.
Other images from 2001 show him surrounded by topless women in bikinis on a yacht while on holiday in Phuket, Thailand, with late billionaire friend and convicted paedophile Epstein. Another was taken at a Halloween event in New York in 2000 where he chatted to supermodel Heidi Klum.
Andrew was also snapped beside scantily clad model Sally Huxley, 26, at a Chinese New Year party in London hosted by socialites Andy and Patti Wong at The Reform Club in Pall Mall in 2002.
And new footage from July 2008 shows him attending a bash hosted by wine tycoon Claude Ott where he chats closely to several women. Newspaper clippings from the earlier 2000s also confirm that the ‘Playboy Prince’ frequented London’s exclusive clubs, and was once ‘guest of honour’ at Tramp nightclub, where Miss Roberts alleges he took her before the 2001 picture was taken.
The interview went down spectacularly badly however and the backlash grew yesterday when an Epstein victim went public at a dramatic press conference. She said the financier had tried to lure her to his private island by saying Andrew was there.
Her lawyer joined the international clamour for Andrew to face the US authorities and tell them everything he knows. As representatives of other victims made the same demand:
- Prosecutors in France said Andrew should travel to Paris to face questions about his stay at a mansion flat that Epstein owned there;
- Labour and the Lib Dems added to the pressure on Andrew, with one frontbencher calling on him to give evidence to American investigators;
- The prince was mired in fresh controversy for allegedly using the n-word – a claim he strongly denied – at a Buckingham Palace meeting with government officials;
- Students at the University of Huddersfield announced they will vote on a motion to lobby Andrew to resign as chancellor;
- A poll found that just 6 per cent of the public believe his explanation for his relationship with Epstein.
Sources today said the Royal Family has been left reeling by the fallout from the BBC interview and the renewed criticism from Epstein’s victims.
While insiders were keen not to be seen to be criticising Andrew, it was clear that his wider family were ‘aghast’ at the interview and the subsequent reaction. ‘People are shaking their heads and wondering where to go from here,’ said one.
Another former royal aide has called for the prince to ‘take a sabbatical’ before irreversible damage is done to the charities and organisations he works with.
Questions remain as to how much the Queen knew and whether she sanctioned the interview. Palace officials repeated their line that she had been ‘aware’ of the interview but refused to be drawn on whether she had approved it.
On a disastrous day for the eighth in line to the throne pressure centred on the charity that he sees as a lifeline to repairing his public reputation.
During Saturday’s ‘make or break’ appearance on BBC’s Newsnight, Andrew flagged Pitch@Palace – a Dragons’ Den-style scheme for entrepreneurs – as a vital way of reconnecting with the public following the scandal.
A royal aide yesterday described it as one of the few ‘real success stories’ of his life. But KPMG, one of Britain’s leading accountancy firms, revealed it had cut ties with the duke. The firm was a founding partner and had paid up to £100,000 a year in sponsorship since 2014.
KPMG bosses decided to end the relationship last month due to ‘unsavoury’ issues stemming from the duke’s friendship with Epstein. The decision was taken by the firm after consultation with its ‘risk committee’ that considers reputational issues.
Astrazeneca, which is a ‘strategic partner’, said it was reviewing its three-year relationship which is due to end next month.
Aon was listed as the initiative’s sole ‘global partner’ but sources insisted the company was not associated with Pitch@Palace and the listing was an error.
The drugs giant Astrazeneca is considering its links to the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace following his Newsnight interview
It is understood that several firms were prompted to review their relationship with Andrew after he was again accused of having sex with a teenage victim of the billionaire financier earlier this year. He vehemently denies the claims.
The insurance giant has insisted that its name is removed from Pitch@Palace’s website
A web page advertising Pitch@Palace’s sponsors was removed from the internet yesterday afternoon. The project has helped 931 businesses, created 5,982 jobs and generated £1.105billion of economic activity, according to Andrew’s team.
The Daily Mail yesterday contacted many other multinational companies linked to the scheme, including the bank Standard Chartered and Air Asia.
But none gave their backing to the duke and instead refused to comment on their links. A KPMG spokesman refused to comment last night.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘KPMG’s contract with Pitch@Palace ended at the end of October. A full programme of Pitch@Palace events is continuing across the United Kingdom.’
KPMG has decided not to renew its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace, which is Prince Andrew’s scheme for start-ups
Prince Andrew ‘teenager’ hits back: Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre who claims she had sex with the Duke has filmed a BBC interview about Royal’s denials
By Sebastian Murphy-Bates
Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre has filmed an interview with the BBC in a move to shatter Prince Andrew’s denials that he had sex with her.
The 35-year-old, who says she had intercourse with the Duke, spoke to Panorama before the Royal appeared on Saturday’s Newsnight.
She is believed to have claimed during the conversation that the prince slept with her when she was 17.
Ms Giuffre claims that billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein trafficked her to London from the US.
Ms Giuffre (pictured) claims that billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein trafficked her to London from the US
And Mirror Online reports that she is furious her interview – which was filmed three weeks before Andrew’s Newsnight chat aired – has not aired yet.
A source close to her told the website that she ‘made no bones’ about the Duke’s denial during her sit-down with Panorama, in which she is said to demand he comes clean.
It comes amid speculation that Ms Giuffre’s interview was deliberately held back so that it didn’t jeopardise 59-year-old Andrew’s interview.
The source said the her legal team have now idea why the Panorama interview has not aired.
They claim that every broadcaster to have interviewed Ms Giuffre has aired them ‘almost immediately’ but the BBC hasn’t.
But BBC sources says that the interview forms part of a larger investigation and it is for that reason that it hasn’t yet aired.
A lawyer for three victims of Epstein has demanded the Duke testify to the FBI under oath.
Prince Andrew (pictured during a Pitch@Palace event in November 2015) is facing a furious backlash as companies consider their relationship with the Duke
Prince Andrew denied any knowledge of the financier’s perversions during his conversation with Emily Maitlis.
Lawyer Gloria Allred said that she could not see how Andrew would not have known that Epstein was exploiting underage minors.
Spencer Kulvin, who also represents a victim of Epstein, said that Prince Andrew’s decision to go on camera ‘shocked’ him because anything he said could be utilised in a cross-examination.
He added that he doesn’t think there’s any way a man who visited all of Epstein’s homes could be unaware of girls being brought in and out.