UK Queen Relieves Prince Andrew of Public Duties Over The Epstein Scandal

Published November 21st, 2019 - 09:59 GMT
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (L) speaks to Queen Elizabeth II on the Queens stand during Derby day at the Epsom Derby Festival, in Surrey, southern England, on June 1, 2013. (AFP/ File Photo)
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (L) speaks to Queen Elizabeth II on the Queens stand during Derby day at the Epsom Derby Festival, in Surrey, southern England, on June 1, 2013. (AFP/ File Photo)
Highlights
Andrew visited convicted paedophile Epstein, who killed himself in August, even after his release from prison.

The Queen 'sacked' Prince Andrew from royal duties after discussing the crisis with Prince Charles and summoning her distraught 'favourite son' to Buckingham Palace to learn his fate.

The Duke of York is today being urged to fly to America to speak to the FBI with lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein's victims warning him 'any delay' must lead to US agents heading to London to interview him before Christmas.  

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents five of Epstein's 'slaves', has said she is ready to subpoena Andrew and force him to give evidence in the US - but prosecutors would treat him as a witness to help prosecute Epstein's 'helpers' and co-conspirators rather than a criminal suspect.

Ms Bloom said: 'Andrew and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents. Nobody is above the law and everybody should have to answer questions'.

The Queen took decisive action against her second son last night in a desperate bid to contain the fall-out from the duke's disastrous Newsnight interview about his years of friendship with the paedophile. 

Andrew will lose his £249,000 annual income from the Sovereign Grant as a result - but will keep his grace-and-favour home in Windsor and cash will still come in from his mother's Duchy of Lancaster estate, the source of her multi-million pound private income.

The Duke wanted to speak to the BBC but he was skewered by Emily Maitlis. The misjudgment triggered days of catastrophic headlines and caused a string of businesses and charities to desert him, with experts calling it the biggest crisis to grip the royal family for decades.

Royal expert Penny Junor said: 'I would think the Queen is horrified - it's been a disastrous year' and biographer Ingrid Seward, Editor in Chief of Majesty Magazine, said: 'I have never known anything like this in living memory'.

Andrew has been pilloried for his TV performance because of a lack of contrition for his friendship with the paedophile and his failure to express sympathy for the dozens of women Epstein trafficked and abused over three decades.

His alibis for not having sex with Virginia Roberts three times including being in Ascot's Pizza Express have also been widely ridiculed by the public. And now his claim he was with Britain's consul general in New York when Ms Roberts said they slept together in 2001 became at odds with the diplomat in question, Sir Thomas Harris, who said last night: 'I don't recall him staying with me'. 

As Andrew was effectively retired by the royal family aged 59, it has emerged: 

  • Lawyers for Epstein's victims called for Andrew to sit down with FBI agents and give an in-depth interview under oath 'without delay' with calls for Americans to head to London to speak to him if he refuses;
  • More than 20 major companies and charities – including Barclays, KPMG and the English National Ballet – distanced themselves from Andrew and the initiatives he has been backing; 
  • Major questions emerge over his alibis over a trip to New York during which Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts claims they had sex after diplomat denies the royal stayed with him and an aide claiming Andrew was free and unaccompanied on his first afternoon of the 2001 visit;
  • A letter from Buckingham Palace casts doubt on the Duke of York's claims about when he first met the tycoon, who killed himself in jail in August;

The Duke was forced out of public life after lengthy discussions with his eldest brother the Prince of Wales, who is touring New Zealand, and the Queen summoned Andrew to Buckingham Palace and told him to step down but allowed him to draft his own statement.

A royal insider said: 'When the Queen and the Prince of Wales stand firm together they are a pretty formidable combination in terms of getting things done.' 

Last night the duke issued a statement confirming he was, with his mother's permission, 'stepping down' from public duties for the foreseeable future. He will lose his £249,000 annual income from the Sovereign Grant as a result.

But he will keep getting cash handouts from his mother's Duchy of Lancaster estate, which turned a £21.7million profit last year and provides the Queen and her children with a private income.

Andrew will also keep his grace-and-favour Royal Lodge home, which he has spent £7.5million renovating in recent years and taxpayer-funded police bodyguards.

The royal residence in Windsor Great Park was gifted to him by Her Majesty in 2003 when he split from the Duchess of York and the couple sold their Sunninghill Park mansion in Ascot to a billionaire Kazakh oil tycoon who paid £15million - £3million over asking price - and then razed it to the ground. 

Last night, a friend of Andrew told The Sun: 'The Queen summoned the Duke to Buckingham Palace to tell him her decision. It was a devastating moment for both of them. His reputation is in tatters. It is unlikely he will ever perform royal duties again. He is disgraced.'  

Lawyers for Epstein's victims called for Andrew to sit down with FBI agents and give an in-depth interview under oath - and US agents should go to Britain if he refuses; 

More than 20 major companies and charities – including Barclays, KPMG and the English National Ballet – distanced themselves from Andrew and the initiatives he has been backing;

A Mail investigation called into question his alibi over a trip to New York during which Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts claims they had sex;

A letter from Buckingham Palace cast doubt on the Duke of York's claims about when he first met the tycoon, who killed himself in jail in August;

Andrew's career was ended last night just four days after the broadcast of a BBC interview he volunteered for - already branded one of the worst decisions ever made by royal.

The source said that the Duke will no longer receive his Sovereign Grant allowance because that funds expenses incurred during official duties. His income from the Queen's private funds will remain intact. 

The devastated prince, who is eighth in line to the throne, was told he could write his own statement in an attempt to allow him to bow out gracefully.

After informing the wider royal family first, Buckingham Palace put out a statement shortly before 6pm on the distraught prince's behalf saying: 'I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.'

It is unprecedented for a senior royal to be asked to stand down in this way and illustrates how damaging Andrew's BBC Newsnight interview was for himself, and the monarchy. The dramatic announcement came just as Andrew was trying to insist that it was business as usual.

The Mail can reveal that he had even planned to fly to Bahrain this Saturday for a Pitch@Palace charity initiative, despite the furore over last Saturday's television ordeal.  

The 59-year-old prince and his team – led by private secretary Amanda Thirsk – knew speaking publically about the Epstein scandal was a huge gamble.

But they felt backed into a corner following the sex offender's suicide and repeated claims by Miss Roberts that she was 'trafficked' by her abuser to have sex with the Queen's son on three occasions, the first when she was just 17.

Mrs Thirsk and her team hoped that by choosing such a formidable interviewer as Emily Maitlis the general public would be convinced of his innocence and honesty. 

Instead, millions of viewers were left astonished by Andrew's attempt to explain his relationship with Epstein, with his interview only adding to the doubts over his account of their time together.

The duke was lambasted for his decision to fly to the US and stay with Epstein for four days after his release from prison for sexual offences against children. 

He said he had to tell the financier in person that he could no longer have anything to do with him – it was the 'honourable' thing to do.

He was also roundly criticised for failing to show any remorse for Epstein's dozens of female victims. 

As the backlash grew, supporters of his key public initiatives – such as the entrepreneurial scheme, Pitch@Palace – began to openly withdraw their support.

Several charities of which he was patron also tried to distance themselves from him. 

Desperate to move on, officials reiterated their hope that once the dust had settled, the public would see Andrew as an 'honest, decent and honourable man'.

As revealed by the Mail earlier this week, he was back at his desk at Buckingham palace on Tuesday trying to get on with his work. 

But that day he was forced to cancel a trip to South Yorkshire to visit flood-hit towns.

It was then that the Queen decided to take action. 

She asked Andrew to come into the palace from his home, Royal Lodge, in Windsor, to see her in between official duties including audiences with ambassadors and a public event with Sir David Attenborough.

An insider told the Mail: 'There was a very definite feeling that everyone needed to think cool, calm and sensibly. There's been no sense of fury. 

'The Queen and the senior royals were very much looking at how the furore was impacting on the General Election and on the institution of the monarchy at a deeper level. 

'It's difficult to think of another time when we have seen more decisive action. 

'The Queen has shown very decisive leadership and the difference is that she is energised by having the Prince of Wales with her.'

In his statement Andrew said he unequivocally regretted his association with Epstein, sympathised with his victims and would help any investigation. 

A royal aide confirmed the prince would be temporarily stepping back from his duties. No time period was specified.

He will, however, continue to attend events as a member of the Royal Family such as the Christmas Day service at Sandringham and Trooping the Colour.

Andrew receives an undisclosed stipend from the Queen, believed to be in the region of £250,000.

His diminished role is expected to lead to redundancies in his private office. 

It is likely that other members of the Royal Family will take on some of the prince's patronages and charitable duties.  

Andrew 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. 

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.

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.   

Prince Andrew last night signalled he would speak to FBI detectives investigating billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

In his statement announcing he was stepping aside from public duties, the prince said he was 'willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency... if required'.

Andrew's offer to co-operate with the authorities was welcomed by lawyers representing Epstein's victims, but they questioned why he would only do so 'if required'.

The legal teams called on Andrew and his bodyguards to give 'in-depth interviews' to the FBI revealing everything they knew about Epstein.

The Mirror claims that the duke may have been filmed on secret cameras installed by the paedophile as an 'insurance policy' against his rich and powerful friends and the footage could be in the hands of the authorities.

The whereabouts of Epstein's alleged 'pimp' Ghislaine Maxwell is currently unknown but she is said to be 'loyal' to Andrew, who she saw earlier this year, and would reportedly refuse to 'dish the dirt' on him to the FBI, according to The Sun.

'I don't recall him staying with me': Britain's ex-consul general in New York casts doubt on Prince Andrew's claim he stayed with him not Epstein on fateful 'sex allegation' trip - in evidence presented to Palace just hours before duke stepped down
When you’re accused of having sex with a teenager trafficked to the home of a billionaire paedophile with whom you spend extended periods, it pays to have a rock-solid alibi.

So on Saturday, when Prince Andrew was asked about claims that, in April 2001, he slept with a 17-year-old girl called Virginia Roberts at the New York lair of prolific child-abuser Jeffrey Epstein, he came out all guns blazing.

‘I think the date we have for that shows that I was in Boston or I was in New York the previous day, and I was at a dinner for the Outward Bound Trust in New York and then I flew up to Boston the following day,’ he told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis.

While the Prince confessed that he ‘probably did’ look in on Epstein at some stage during the trip, he vigorously denied staying overnight at the financier’s seven-storey townhouse, which was decorated with pieces of erotic artwork, including a pair of prosthetic breasts mounted on a bathroom wall.

‘Because of what I was doing, I was staying with the consul-general, which is further down the street [from Epstein’s home],’ he declared in the BBC interview. ‘So I wasn’t staying there [at Epstein’s home]. I may have visited but no, definitely didn’t, definitely, definitely, no, no, no activity.’

All well and good... were it not for an awkward fact. The prince’s recollection of events seems at odds with that of the consul-general in question, Sir Thomas Harris.

One of the most high-flying and respected British diplomats of his generation, Sir Thomas, who served in New York from 1999 to 2004, tells the Mail that despite Andrew’s televised claims, the retired diplomat has ‘no recollection’ of the prince staying at his official residence during the trip. ‘It doesn’t sound as if he stayed with me,’ he said yesterday. ‘I don’t recall him staying with me.’

Sir Thomas, 74, admitted he no longer had a copy of his 2001 diary, so was unable to be certain about comings and goings that occurred at his official residence, an apartment just off Central Park, 18 years ago.

However, he pointed out that overnight stays by Prince Andrew and other senior royals at a consul-general’s residence tend to be formally registered in the Court Circular, as are associated dinner parties. No such stays were chronicled in the Court Circular for the crucial dates of April 9-11 2001, when the duke was carrying out formal engagements in the US.

‘Normally, I would give him a dinner party in the evening,’ he said, noting that the absence of records of such an event ‘makes me suspect he wasn’t with me that night’.

‘If he stayed with me, we would normally arrange for businesses to come in. My understanding is that it would be in the Court Circular. I was led to believe that was the normal form. If you go through the Court Circular, you will come across the other visits he paid to New York. That was the typical pattern.’

Sir Thomas said he could, for example, vividly remember Prince Andrew visiting in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks. That visit was indeed registered in the Court Circular at the time, along with other trips in October 2000 and September 2002, during which it was noted that the diplomat ‘received’ the Queen’s son.

However, he insisted: ‘I have no recollection of him staying at the address in April. I don’t have a note of the dates of all the visits – the Palace will. It doesn’t ring any bell whatsoever.’

All very mysterious – not to mention somewhat awkward, given that Andrew has staked a hefty portion of what remains of his reputation on having a perfect memory of events that occurred during the Easter 2001 trip.

The three days he spent on official business in New York and Boston are, after all, at the heart of the increasingly tawdry scandal surrounding the duke’s relationship with Epstein. It is during this very short period that Mrs Roberts claims that one of their three alleged sexual encounters occurred, in an upstairs room at Epstein’s mansion. What we do know, from official records, is that Andrew did indeed fly to New York from London on the morning of Monday, April 9, meaning he’d have arrived around lunchtime.

His first formal engagement wasn’t until the following morning, when he toured a school and took a lunch meeting at the offices of The New York Times. That evening he flew to Boston, where he stayed at the official residence of the city’s consul-general, George Fergusson.

On Wednesday, April 11, the duke attended several events in Boston organised by the Outward Bound Trust, of which he’s a trustee. He flew back to New York that afternoon. He then disappeared from view, and didn’t carry out another official engagement until April 19, when he popped up in Korea.

What the Court Circular failed to record, of course, is where exactly Andrew stayed on the nights of April 9 and 11, 2011 – or what he got up to during the many gaps in his schedule.

Intriguingly, however, the trip was the subject of an extended article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper the following week, during which the prince’s office is quoted as saying that ‘he spent one night in New York as a guest of the consul-general and the second “privately”’.

A month later, in May 2001, the Mail on Sunday carried a second article about Andrew’s burgeoning friendship with Epstein, claiming that the night he spent ‘privately’ had actually been at the paedophile’s vast home.

It continued: ‘For the past two years, his home-away-from-home in Manhattan has been a gaudily-decorated mansion acquired some years ago through a company apparently controlled by Epstein. Only last month, the prince let himself in there for a night during an unannounced break from a visit to do good works for America’s Outward Bound programme.’

Today, both these contemporaneous reports make intriguing reading. For they are completely at odds with what Prince Andrew so confidently told Newsnight had occurred during the New York trip, when he insisted that he spent both nights at the official residence.

And other serious questions are already being asked about his description of the visit. For example, yesterday’s Daily Telegraph quoted an official who travelled with the duke admitting there were ‘possible gaps’ in his itinerary when a visit to Epstein’s house could have taken place.

What we are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt is that Virgina Roberts certainly was in New York at the same time as the duke.

Flight logs of Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the ‘Lolita Express’ show that on April 9, she flew from Florida to Teterboro, a private airport 12 miles from Manhattan. She stayed there until the 11th, when the jet took her to St Thomas, the airport Epstein used near his private Caribbean island.

At least one witness has also come forward to say she saw Roberts and Prince Andrew together at Epstein’s house one afternoon during the visit. She is Johanna Sjoberg, a young girl who was also abused by Epstein. In 2007, after Epstein’s conviction for child sex offences, she gave a newspaper interview saying she had witnessed an extraordinary encounter between the duo in the living room of the paedophile’s mansion, during which she said the duke had groped her breast. She said Prince Andrew was there with and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend and alleged accomplice, along with ‘a couple of other girls my age’.

She added: ‘Andrew was very charming. I didn’t know exactly who he was, but felt that I knew him. She [Ghislaine] came down with a present for him – a latex puppet of him from Spitting Image.

‘The room was very large, considering it was Manhattan. It was on East 71, with four floors. It was beautiful, like a museum.

‘We had a picture taken. Virginia, another girl there, sat on a chair and had the puppet on her lap. Andrew sat on another chair, I sat on his lap – and he put his hand on my breast. Ghislaine put the puppet’s hand on Virginia’s breast, then Andrew put his hand on mine. It was a great joke. Everybody laughed.’

At the time of the interview, the palace declined to comment. Four years later, in 2011, Roberts herself told a reporter about the event.

‘Andrew was sitting there in a big leather armchair behind which there was a desk covered with photos of girls and young women including one of me,’ she recalled.

‘I was almost nude in the picture. I don’t think Andrew could have missed seeing it. Ghislaine had just given him a present... his Spitting Image puppet. He was smiling ear to ear. He looked like a kid whose parents were taking him to Disney World.’

After being made to sit on the duke’s knee with Sjoberg, Roberts alleged that she was instructed to sleep with him, adding: ‘Ghislaine said, “You should take him upstairs for a massage”. I took him upstairs to the Dungeon. He undressed and lay face down on the table. I started with his feet, then his calves the way Jeffrey liked it.’

This time there was no extra payment for the session, she added. ‘Because I wasn’t on the road, I just got my usual hourly rate, which at that time was $200.’

Roberts and Sjoberg repeated the claims under oath in legal depositions that became public in 2015 and this August respectively.

Intriguingly, they claim that the incident took place during the daytime, a highly important detail which renders Prince Andrew’s supposed alibi redundant.

For even if the Duke had been staying overnight at the British consul-general’s residence, the property was a mere seven-minute walk from Epstein’s mansion, making it entirely possible for him to have popped over one afternoon. Indeed, Sir Thomas acknowledges that even if the prince had visited his apartment briefly on arrival in New York, he would have been free to come and go as he pleased when not on official business.

‘If there was free time he had an hour or so in the afternoon if he decided to go off with his detective to have a walk around Central Park,’ he said. ‘I know what you’re getting at and I’m not going to deny there may have been occasions when he went out to have a walk in the park or to do something else, but it wasn’t normal form.

‘I wasn’t supposed to be keeping tabs on every distinguished visitor to New York. If he came to do other things privately I wouldn’t have been involved.’

Buckingham Palace insisted last night that Prince Andrew did not stay with Epstein on either April 9 or 11. In a statement, it said: ‘The Duke’s words from his interview speak for themselves and HRH stands by his recollections.’

The palace issued exactly the same response yesterday to the BBC, when it came across evidence casting doubt on another one of Andrew’s key ‘recollections’.

In the TV interview, the prince claimed to have first met Epstein in 1999. But the BBC found a 2011 letter to the media from his then private secretary, Alistair Watson, insisting that the duke had known Epstein ‘since being introduced to him in the early 1990s’. Obviously, it’s impossible for both versions of events to have been true.

We must also assume, since he’s not retracted them, that HRH also ‘stands by’ other important alibis on which he staked his innocence.

For example, he alleged during the BBC interview that testimony by Roberts describing him as ‘sweaty’ must be untrue, since he has a medical condition which means he cannot sweat.

But news outlets unearthed a photograph of him appearing to sweat profusely as he left the nightclub Chinawhite in 2001.

Andrew also claimed that he and his ex-wife arranged their diaries at the time to ensure at least one of them was always in the UK and able to look after their daughters.

He argued that this made it impossible for him to have encountered Mrs Roberts on a night when she claims he slept with her in London. However, the Mail has found several examples of occasions during that period when the prince and the duchess were both overseas.

With so many alibis seemingly in tatters, and others crumbling, it was perhaps unsurprising that the prince should choose to announce his withdrawal from public duties last night. Whether that will end forensic scrutiny of his friendship with Epstein, not to mention his links to the paedophile’s teenage sex slaves, is another matter.

This isn't a short-term solution. It's early retirement: Queen's biographer ROBERT HARDMAN predicts a bleak future for Prince Andrew
By Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail 

As Tuesday night's televised election debate unfolded, there was mounting dismay at Buckingham Palace – and on the other side of the world.

At issue was not the responses to the question of whether the monarchy was fit for purpose, though it was telling that Jeremy Corbyn's answer – 'needs a bit of improvement' – got a much warmer studio reaction than Boris Johnson's line about the monarchy being 'beyond reproach'.

What really set off alarms across the Royal Household – and in Auckland, where the Prince of Wales was continuing his tour of New Zealand – was the simple fact that the monarchy was surfacing as a general election issue at all.

Throughout the Queen's reign, it has been a cast-iron rule that the Royal Family keep their heads down during election campaigns.

They can go about their business but they must avoid making headlines until the polls have closed and a winner can be summoned to the Palace.

That is how democracy works under a constitutional monarchy.

It is the reason why the Queen apologised to the then prime minister, John Major, when the breakdown of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York gatecrashed the general election campaign in 1992 – the year the Queen called her 'annus horribilis'.

Some Labour campaigners still cite all that deflected media coverage as a factor in Neil Kinnock's narrow defeat. That, however, was nothing compared to the detonation after Saturday night's BBC2 Newsnight interview in which the Duke of York attempted to explain his friendship with a convicted paedophile – and precipitated one of the gravest royal crises of the Queen's reign.

As a result, the election has now been relegated to the '…and in other news' section of most bulletins. Tuesday's Johnson v Corbyn ITV debate simply brought matters to a head.

The headlines had been dreadful for days. The corrosive effect of sponsors – including the royal accountants, KPMG – abandoning the duke's cherished Pitch@Palace business initiative was just the start.

Far more wounding was the news that certain royal patronages were considering cutting their royal links.

It is patronages that underpin the royal role of those members of the Royal Family who are not in the direct line of succession. For the duke, they were his entire raison d'etre.

I understand that there was particular dismay when it emerged that the list of wavering charities included the Outward Bound Trust.

This was a much-loved patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh, a stalwart of the organisation since 1953, the year of the Coronation.

On Prince Philip's watch, the trust has expanded to more than 30 countries.

The Duke of York became involved 20 years ago as chair of the trustees and succeeded his father as patron eight months ago. His daughter, Princess Beatrice, sits on the board. For a charity so close to royal hearts to consider severing its royal links was profoundly worrying.

Tuesday's election debate, then, was the final straw.

Although the Duke of York's statement suggests that his retreat from the public stage has been his own idea, the decision had already been reached in telephone discussions between the Queen and the Prince of Wales. 

It has been reported that the 93-year-old monarch had 'approved' of the Newsnight interview – the duke said as much to the Newsnight team.

It has also been reported that the Queen had been assured by him afterwards that the interview had been a great success.

The reality, I understand, is somewhat different.

Palace officials have made clear that while the Queen was made 'aware' of the impending interview, she did not approve it. By then, it was too late.

As for Prince Charles, he knew nothing about it. 'Don't imagine that she is fooled by any of this,' says one insider.

During the fallout which has followed, the monarch and the heir to the throne have been in close two-way communication about the potential damage to the institution.

I also understand that the Duke of Cambridge has been more than a mere spectator. 'Don't forget he has a long-term stake in this too,' says one friend of the family.

It will have been immensely painful for the Queen to thrash this all out with the Duke of York during the meeting in her study at Buckingham Palace yesterday. But neither she nor he had any choice.

In as much as a member of the Royal Family can resign, that was the only course left open to him.

The duke will still be welcome at anything constituting a 'family' occasion – including appearances on the Palace balcony.

We can expect to see him with other members of the family walking to church on Christmas Day. However, there can be no further solo engagements. Nor will he be expected at next month's Palace reception for Nato heads of state.

Regular interaction with his 230 charities and military units will now cease. These patronages are now 'mothballed'.

He is not abandoning them. Nor will these charities feel obliged to abandon him or remove him from the letterhead. Despite the noise of recent days, many of these organisations remain loyal and supportive of a patron who has been a diligent supporter of their work over many years.

On the basis that everyone is innocent until proved guilty, some will simply leave things as they are and see how events unfold.

What is clear, however, is that this is not a short-term solution while things 'die down'. Until there is some sort of legal resolution, this is early retirement.

Palace officials understand the importance of getting a grip – and of being seen to get a grip – on the helm after the most turbulent royal year in more than two decades. Quite apart from family dramas – notably the obvious unhappiness of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in adapting to their new royal roles – the Queen has been embroiled in a serious constitutional crisis in recent months.

The ease with which the Queen was prevailed upon to grant an illegal prorogation of Parliament while at Balmoral in September left the monarchy looking ineffectual. 

Though the monarch was, of course, constitutionally obliged to abide by Boris Johnson's formal request, some legal experts have suggested that, in years gone by, the Royal Household would have put up more of a fight and asked more questions.

I understand that No 10 has had no involvement in the Queen's decision to grant 'permission' for the duke to step aside from public duties. And after the events of recent months, the Queen will be in no hurry to seek the Prime Minister's advice on the matter, either. 'This decision has been entirely internal,' says one source.

However, once the election is over and the future occupancy of No 10 has been resolved, the Queen will feel obliged, once again, to apologise for the fact that a member of the family has shunted an election off the front pages.

That it was the same member of the family as last time, 27 years ago, will not be lost on anyone.

This isn't a short-term solution. It's early retirement: Queen's biographer ROBERT HARDMAN predicts a bleak future for Prince Andrew
By Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail 

As Tuesday night's televised election debate unfolded, there was mounting dismay at Buckingham Palace – and on the other side of the world.

At issue was not the responses to the question of whether the monarchy was fit for purpose, though it was telling that Jeremy Corbyn's answer – 'needs a bit of improvement' – got a much warmer studio reaction than Boris Johnson's line about the monarchy being 'beyond reproach'.

What really set off alarms across the Royal Household – and in Auckland, where the Prince of Wales was continuing his tour of New Zealand – was the simple fact that the monarchy was surfacing as a general election issue at all.

Throughout the Queen's reign, it has been a cast-iron rule that the Royal Family keep their heads down during election campaigns.

They can go about their business but they must avoid making headlines until the polls have closed and a winner can be summoned to the Palace.

That is how democracy works under a constitutional monarchy. It is the reason why the Queen apologised to the then prime minister, John Major, when the breakdown of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York gatecrashed the general election campaign in 1992 – the year the Queen called her 'annus horribilis'.

Some Labour campaigners still cite all that deflected media coverage as a factor in Neil Kinnock's narrow defeat. That, however, was nothing compared to the detonation after Saturday night's BBC2 Newsnight interview in which the Duke of York attempted to explain his friendship with a convicted paedophile – and precipitated one of the gravest royal crises of the Queen's reign.

As a result, the election has now been relegated to the '…and in other news' section of most bulletins. Tuesday's Johnson v Corbyn ITV debate simply brought matters to a head.

The headlines had been dreadful for days. The corrosive effect of sponsors – including the royal accountants, KPMG – abandoning the duke's cherished Pitch@Palace business initiative was just the start.

Far more wounding was the news that certain royal patronages were considering cutting their royal links.

It is patronages that underpin the royal role of those members of the Royal Family who are not in the direct line of succession. For the duke, they were his entire raison d'etre.

I understand that there was particular dismay when it emerged that the list of wavering charities included the Outward Bound Trust.

This was a much-loved patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh, a stalwart of the organisation since 1953, the year of the Coronation. On Prince Philip's watch, the trust has expanded to more than 30 countries.

The Duke of York became involved 20 years ago as chair of the trustees and succeeded his father as patron eight months ago. His daughter, Princess Beatrice, sits on the board. For a charity so close to royal hearts to consider severing its royal links was profoundly worrying.

Tuesday's election debate, then, was the final straw. Although the Duke of York's statement suggests that his retreat from the public stage has been his own idea, the decision had already been reached in telephone discussions between the Queen and the Prince of Wales. 

It has been reported that the 93-year-old monarch had 'approved' of the Newsnight interview – the duke said as much to the Newsnight team.

It has also been reported that the Queen had been assured by him afterwards that the interview had been a great success. The reality, I understand, is somewhat different.

Palace officials have made clear that while the Queen was made 'aware' of the impending interview, she did not approve it. By then, it was too late.

As for Prince Charles, he knew nothing about it. 'Don't imagine that she is fooled by any of this,' says one insider.

During the fallout which has followed, the monarch and the heir to the throne have been in close two-way communication about the potential damage to the institution.

I also understand that the Duke of Cambridge has been more than a mere spectator. 

'Don't forget he has a long-term stake in this too,' says one friend of the family.

It will have been immensely painful for the Queen to thrash this all out with the Duke of York during the meeting in her study at Buckingham Palace yesterday. But neither she nor he had any choice.

In as much as a member of the Royal Family can resign, that was the only course left open to him.

The duke will still be welcome at anything constituting a 'family' occasion – including appearances on the Palace balcony.

We can expect to see him with other members of the family walking to church on Christmas Day. 

However, there can be no further solo engagements. 

Nor will he be expected at next month's Palace reception for Nato heads of state.

Regular interaction with his 230 charities and military units will now cease. These patronages are now 'mothballed'.

He is not abandoning them. Nor will these charities feel obliged to abandon him or remove him from the letterhead. 

Despite the noise of recent days, many of these organisations remain loyal and supportive of a patron who has been a diligent supporter of their work over many years.

On the basis that everyone is innocent until proved guilty, some will simply leave things as they are and see how events unfold.

What is clear, however, is that this is not a short-term solution while things 'die down'. 

Until there is some sort of legal resolution, this is early retirement.

Palace officials understand the importance of getting a grip – and of being seen to get a grip – on the helm after the most turbulent royal year in more than two decades. 

Quite apart from family dramas – notably the obvious unhappiness of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in adapting to their new royal roles – the Queen has been embroiled in a serious constitutional crisis in recent months.

The ease with which the Queen was prevailed upon to grant an illegal prorogation of Parliament while at Balmoral in September left the monarchy looking ineffectual. 

Though the monarch was, of course, constitutionally obliged to abide by Boris Johnson's formal request, some legal experts have suggested that, in years gone by, the Royal Household would have put up more of a fight and asked more questions.

I understand that No 10 has had no involvement in the Queen's decision to grant 'permission' for the duke to step aside from public duties. 

And after the events of recent months, the Queen will be in no hurry to seek the Prime Minister's advice on the matter, either. 'This decision has been entirely internal,' says one source.

However, once the election is over and the future occupancy of No 10 has been resolved, the Queen will feel obliged, once again, to apologise for the fact that a member of the family has shunted an election off the front pages.

That it was the same member of the family as last time, 27 years ago, will not be lost on anyone.

 
All 200 of Prince Andrew's charities 'to seek new patrons' as he withdraws from public life – after one-by-one they distanced themselves from him over Jeffrey Epstein scandal
By Danyal Hussein for MailOnline 

Prince Andrew's withdrawal from public life over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal means that all 200 of his charities will need to seek new patrons. 

The Queen ordered the Duke of York to step down in an attempt to contain the fall-out from his disastrous TV interview about his friendship with the paedophile billionaire.

It comes as ten of the 35 worldwide sponsors of Andrew's beloved Pitch@Palace charity pulled the plug on their support and funding.  

After his sacking, palace sources confirmed charities he was affiliated with would no longer receive his patronage. 

They refused to reveal how long his exile will last, telling the Times that charities finding other patrons 'was a matter for them'.

However, they did add that he would attend events like Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Sunday as a member of the royal family.  

Andrew's now-infamous interview triggered days of catastrophic headlines and caused a string of businesses and charities to desert him.

Following lengthy discussions with the Prince of Wales, who is touring New Zealand, the Queen summoned Andrew to Buckingham Palace and told him to step down yesterday.

Earlier, the English National Ballet also told MailOnline that it was reviewing Prince Andrew's role as patron, before his withdrawal from public life was announced.  

The Duke of York's disastrous BBC interview and toxic friendship with Jeffrey Epstein has caused 'real concern' for the board of trustees and among staff that his official role could undermine their work with youngsters, it has been claimed. 

A source told The Times: 'Everyone is hoping that it can be resolved without requiring collective discussion. But at some point it will require that discussion if he does not stand down. The trouble is he has a thick skin and I am sure he would be reluctant to'.

English National Ballet refused to comment on the alleged plot but a spokesman told MailOnline: 'The matter of English National Ballet's patronage is being discussed by its trustees. We have no further comment at this time'.  

Andrew is the patron of 189 charities and organisations including 28 golf clubs and societies - who will all need new patrons now. 

Five big businesses: Advertising Week Europe, KPMG, Aon, Standard Chartered and Gravity Road say they will no longer be involved. Five universities and education groups in Australia, Canada and the UK are also cancelling.

The Telegraph has claimed that other supporters have asked for reassurance that the Duke of York will quit completely to save the charity for young entrepreneurs from collapse.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the meeting and said this 'would be a matter for the respective organisations.

It came as Andrew finally broke cover 72 hours after his BBC catastrophe as he was banished from royal duties.

The Duke of York should have been meeting flood-hit communities in the north of England yesterday but instead he was diverted to Buckingham Palace as the backlash after his Newsnight special kept getting worse. 

Before he was sacked, sources close to the Queen denied she had summoned her son from Windsor for crisis talks amid the furore over his interview about convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

They insisted it was 'business as usual' for the beleaguered royal and they angrily hit back at media coverage of the debacle, saying the public 'traducing' of the prince was turning into a 'personality-motivated witch-hunt'.

But his visit to the flood-hit towns of Fishlake and Stainforth in South Yorkshire was called off as big businesses abandoned him because of his toxic links to Epstein and allegations he had sex with the paedophile's 'slave' Virginia Roberts when she was 17.

Public confidence in him is also on the rocks after a poll found just one in 20 people who watched the Newsnight special were convinced by his bizarre alibis including being in Pizza Express on the night Virginia claims they had sex in London.   

It has emerged that the Duke's ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who remains close to Andrew, was the 'driving force' behind the Royal's decision to conduct his disastrous TV interview that blew up in his face.

As the prince was put on desk duties, it has emerged: 

Andrew 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 from his BBC Newsnight interview.

But Buckingham Palace, while confirming that he had intended to quietly visit the area, denied this, saying it was due to electioneering in the region.

'The Duke was due to attend to offer his support and thanks to the emergency services but with an election campaign and a politician also visiting it was not appropriate for the visit to continue,' an official said.

Flood victim Pam Webb said she thought a visit by Andrew would not have been a good move as it would have detracted from the crisis. 

She said: 'We would welcome a royal visit, but maybe not by him at this time. Efforts have to be focused on the flooding and what's happened here.'

Instead Andrew was spotted leaving his Windsor mansion, Royal Lodge, to drive himself into London in his £150,000 Bentley, on Tuesday morning. He parked up in the palace forecourt and remained there during the day.

Sources close to the prince expressed their anger at the interview's coverage, particularly reports over how firms were now pulling their support from his initiatives such as Pitch@Palace, a scheme for entrepreneurs. 

One royal insider said: 'If you want to hammer a man while he is down then go for it, but Pitch has done, and is continuing to do, an immense amount of good work.'

The source said both of the prince's initiatives, Pitch@Palace and digital awards scheme iDEA, had independent operating structures and had been built to 'weather any storms'.

But they also insisted that there were no plans for Andrew to step down as their figurehead. 

'This is a witch-hunt and is, as far as anyone can see, one that is personality-motivated,' they said. 

'If he had done something criminal then that would be one thing, but he hasn't. This is completely unfair and unbalanced.' 

One source also reiterated that Andrew would be willing to co-operate with the US authorities investigating Epstein's crimes. 

'He made clear in the interview that of course if anyone wants to ask him a question then of course he is going to answer it. It is ridiculous to think he wouldn't... but they haven't asked him yet,' they said.

The source also reiterated that Andrew would be willing to co-operate with the US authorities investigating Epstein's crimes. 

'He made clear in the interview that of course if anyone wants to ask him a question then of course he is going to answer it. It is ridiculous to think he wouldn't... but they haven't asked him yet,' they said.

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 after his car crash BBC interview, MailOnline revealed.

Advertising Week Europe, which has supported the Pitch@Palace project and was hailed as an official supporter by the prince, is the latest company to pull its backing for the beleaguered duke.

Bosses will not be inviting Andrew or his team to its four-day summit in London - one of the world's largest gatherings of advertising executives and experts being held in the capital next March.

A spokesman said: 'While our support for entrepreneurs remains just as strong, we can confirm that Pitch@Palace will not be held as part of Advertising Week Europe 2020'.

Andrew's former supporters are in full retreat with the future of his charity for young entrepreneurs now looking precarious because of the Epstein scandal and damaging claims he had sex with his 17-year-old 'slave' Virginia Roberts three times. 

Pitch@Palace has been forced to delete the webpage hailing its 35 key backers - and five big businesses: Advertising Week Europe, KPMG, Aon, Standard Chartered and Gravity Road say they will no longer be working with the charity. 

It is now known how much this will cost the charity, but KPMG was paying them £100,000-a-year.  

Two of Australia's most prestigious universities, Bond University in Queensland and Melbourne's RMIT University, also severed their ties with the controversial royal's charity as are Murdoch University and the University of Wollongong.

There are also major doubts about whether the 189 leading charities and groups Andrew supports away from Pitch@Palace will all stand by him. London Metropolitan University is considering whether to sack him as a patron and the University of Huddersfield says it is 'listening' to students left raging over the decision to back him as their Chancellor.  

Standard Chartered revealed to MailOnline that its bosses have decided they will not be renewing its sponsorship when it ends in February. 

Pitch@Palace has lost five key sponsors and three more including AstraZeneca are formally considering whether to quit after his BBC disaster.  

KPMG, one of London's big four accounting firms, was the first company to end its £100,000-a-year sponsorship last night in the face of 'adverse publicity'. Insurance giant Aon then asked for its name to be removed.

There are also major doubts over Andrew's links to 189 charities in the UK and abroad.

Andrew is a patron of the Outward Bound Trust [OBT] after he inherited the role from his father Prince Philip and the charity is holding a special meeting to discuss the issue later this week. The prince's daughter Beatrice is a trustee but will be excluded from taking part.  

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. 

KPMG, one of London's big four accounting firms, was the first to admit it was protecting its reputation by ending its £100,000 a year sponsorship.

Insurance giant Aon asked for its name be removed from the scheme's website and drugs maker AstraZeneca said it was reviewing its relationship.  

Children's charities and schools linked to Prince Andrew are also in disarray as they distanced themselves from the under-fire royal. 

A string of major companies and charities are also examining their links with Andrew after his extraordinary TV interview on Saturday. 

Children North East and The Children's Foundation, both charities Andrew lists on his official website, refused to tell MailOnline if he will keep his official role supporting them in light of the Epstein scandal.

The Council of British International Schools [COBIS] praised the duke's work with them since 2011 but also refused to say if their link with the prince remains. 

Jeffrey Epstein's sex slave Virginia Roberts has filmed a BBC interview she will use to shatter Prince Andrew's denials they ever had sex when she was 17 as the royal's woes got worse.

The 35-year-old, who calls the Duke of York her 'abuser', spoke to Panorama before he spoke publicly for the first time to say they never met or had sex - even suggesting the world-famous picture of them together in London in 2001 could have been faked.

A source close to Ms Roberts says she 'made no bones about her thoughts on the Duke's denial' during her sit-down with Panorama, in which she is said to demand he 'comes clean'.

But she is said to be irate that her own interview has not been shown amid suggestions it was held back to ensure Andrew's sit-down with Emily Maitlis wasn't jeopardised - but BBC insiders claim it will form a wider Epstein investigation that is not yet ready to broadcast.

US-born Ms Roberts, who now uses her married surname Giuffre, spoke to Panorama in the US three weeks ago - but may have to be interviewed again to respond to the duke's bizarre alibis including being in Pizza Express on the night she claims they had sex in London. 

Andrew also denied he allegations he 'sweated profusely' during intercourse by claiming he couldn't perspire for more than 20 years after an adrenaline-rush while being shot at in the Falklands War. 

 
The Duke of Hazard: Embarrassing stunts, shocking misjudgments, and very shady friends... the photos that show Prince Andrew has never been far from a crisis
Prince Andrew, who has stepped down from public life for the foreseeable future over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has led a controversial life for decades.

From an astonishing relationship with a former actress, to sharing a luxury yacht with topless women, his reputation as a royal has often teetered on the brink.

Here, we take a look at some of the lows of a Duke who’s never been far from causing a crisis...

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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