Prince Andrew removed as patron of almost 50 organisations

Author
Victoria Ward and Lizzie Roberts, Daily Telegraph UK,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 May 2021, 2:08PM
Prince Andrew, Duke of York. (Photo / Getty Images)
Prince Andrew, Duke of York. (Photo / Getty Images)

Prince Andrew removed as patron of almost 50 organisations

Author
Victoria Ward and Lizzie Roberts, Daily Telegraph UK,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 May 2021, 2:08PM

The Duke of York has been quietly or publicly removed as patron of almost 50 organisations, The Telegraph can reveal, despite his expressed intention to one day return to public life.

The proportion of his charities and organisations, thought to be at least one in four, that opted to sever ties with the Duke after his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, underlines the scale of the damage to his reputation.

Many, particularly those working with children, felt it was "no longer appropriate" to continue their associations with him. Others said they were determined to find a representative "better suited" to their aims and values.

When the Duke, 61, announced on November 20, 2019 that he was "stepping back from public duties for the foreseeable future" following the furore over his disastrous Newsnight interview, many of his charities found themselves in a difficult position.

Board meetings were called, frantic phone calls made. Several took the decision to end their association with immediate effect.

They included the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, the Golf Foundation, the Children's Foundation, the Outward Bound Trust and the British Science Association.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children's Fund said: "We felt that as a children's charity it was not appropriate for him to remain patron."

Other organisations such as Berkshire County Cricket Club, the Society for Nautical Research, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and Whitgift School in Croydon, also severed ties.

About 200 charities and organisations are said to have the Duke's backing. Of about 150 contacted by the Telegraph, 47 confirmed they had ended their affiliation with him. Many declined to respond or opted not to comment, suggesting the subject remains highly sensitive.

Of those who had severed ties, the majority said they had not yet replaced him. However, many said they were hoping to recruit individuals more aligned to their aims.

Only three, the British Science Association, the Council of British International Schools and the Tall Ships Youth Trust, said they had contacted Buckingham Palace in the hope of finding a new royal patron.

The Royal Alberta United Services Institute, a Canada-based think tank, said work was under way to replace the Duke "with an individual better suited to and engaged with" its mission.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the York Minster Fund confirmed they replaced the Duke as royal patron with his brother, the Prince of Wales.

Others felt they should cut ties with the Duke but felt unable to do so as he had not been charged or convicted of any crime. Instead of formally parting ways, they quietly removed his portrait from the wall, deleted his name from their website and even in one case concealed a plaque bearing his name behind a plant.

Those confirming they have maintained their links with the Duke, while accepting he cannot engage in any activity on their behalf, include the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the Friends of the Staffordshire Regiment, Morayvia Aerospace Centre and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

The Telegraph's investigation found a lack of contact from Buckingham Palace about the unfolding events in 2019 had caused significant confusion.

Several organisations, having heard nothing directly from the Duke's office, believed when he stepped back, he had in fact stepped down.

Fire Sport UK said it assumed the Duke had resigned from his position and it would therefore be notified in due course who would take on the role.

The Foundation for Liver Research also said "based on the announcement that came from Buckingham Palace" it was their understanding he was no longer their patron.

Tim Ward, a trustee of the Friends of Lakefield College School, which the Duke attended in 1978, said when the Duke stepped back for the foreseeable future, "we considered that the end of the patronage really". He was duly removed from its website and note paper.

A Buckingham Palace source acknowledged the Duke's individual patronages had not been contacted directly.

"The announcement of the Duke of York stepping back from public duties received widespread attention and many patronages were quick to get in touch," they said.

"Since then, patronages wishing to discuss the impact on their operations have been dealt with as they arose."

Many charities noted the royal family's website, listing the Duke as patron of 136 charities and organisations, was woefully out of date. Many are not included, while other associations ended some time before the Epstein furore.

The Duke became friends with Epstein in the late 1990s through his long-standing relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell.

He was forced to resign as a UK trade envoy in 2011 after a photograph emerged of the Duke meeting Epstein in Central Park in New York, shortly after the billionaire had been released from jail after serving an 18-month prison sentence for sexual offences.

But his fall from grace was prompted by his disastrous Newsnight interview in which he insisted he had no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims who claims she was trafficked to the UK and forced to have sex with the Duke. The Duke has always denied these claims.

He said it had later become clear that the circumstances relating to his former association with Epstein had become "a major disruption" to his family's work and he had therefore asked the Queen for permission to "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future".

The beleaguered royal had hired Britain's top legal team to fend off an FBI inquiry into his friendship with the convicted paedophile.

He has faced significant pressure to speak to the FBI and has insisted he is cooperating with the investigation.

Royal aides have insisted there will be no way back until he is able to clear his name.

A spokesperson for the Duke of York declined to comment.