Prince Andrew stepping back from public duties amid Jeffrey Epstein scandal

  • Video report by ITV Royal Editor Chris Ship

Prince Andrew has announced he will stepping back from public duties for the "foreseeable future" as the fallout to his Jeffrey Epstein interview continues.

The Duke of York said in a statement he is "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations" over the Epstein probe.

In a statement released through Buckingham Palace, Prince Andrew said he "unequivocally regret(s) my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."

The Duke of York said the Queen had approved his decision.

Prince Andrew expressed his "deep sympathy" to Epstein's victims and "everyone who has been affected."

The news comes after several businesses, organisations and sponsors severed ties with the duke, after his controversial Newsnight interview on his friendship with the convicted sex offender.

In a statement, Prince 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.

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"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 with their investigations, if required."

Prince Andrew says he 'unequivocally regret(s) my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.' Credit: ITV News

Several sponsors associated with the duke's Pitch@Palace scheme have cut ties with Andrew, including KPMG and Standard Chartered.

While other organisations are reviewing their ties with the initiative for tech entrepreneurs.

The Outward Bound Trust, which has a long association with the royal family, is considering the duke's role as patron.

The charity will be holding a board meeting this week to discuss whether Andrew should stay as patron - he took over the role in March from the Duke of Edinburgh, who dedicated 65 years to the charity.

And two UK universities - the University of Huddersfield and London Metropolitan University - are reviewing the duke's role as patron.

Huddersfield University has passed a motion to lobby the duke to resign as its chancellor, after students used #notmychancellor on social media.While London Met said: "We will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our Patron at the next Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday 26th November.

"The University opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the University’s values."

It comes as BT warned it will only continue to back a digital skills award scheme if the Duke of York is dropped as patron.

BT called for Andrew to be removed as patron of iDEA – The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award – a programme which helps develop digital enterprise and employability skills.

The Duke of York during the presentation of the first bronze awards for the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award in 2017. Credit: PA

Prince Andrew has faced a barrage of criticism in the aftermath of the interview and was accused of lacking any empathy with Epstein's victims.

He was widely condemned for his unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse for the friendship.

When asked by 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.”

He was questioned on allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old who claims she was trafficked into London.

Prince Andrew strenuously denied he had had sex with Virginia Giuffre - then Virginia Roberts - because he had taken his daughter to Pizza Express in Woking on the alleged date.

Prince Andrew gave a no-holds barred interview about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Credit: BBC

He also claimed he had "no recollection of meeting her" or of the photo of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre being taken, suggesting it could have been doctored.

The duke said there was a "slight problem" with Ms Giuffre's story as she claimed he was "profusely sweating" - as Andrew said he was unable to perspire at the time.

"I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don't sweat or I didn't sweat at the time," he claimed in the interview.

"...I didn't sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply... it was almost impossible for me to sweat."