Buckingham Palace yesterday insisted embattled Prince Andrew would continue working on his flagship business project after reports suggested he was standing down.
He will continue leading Pitch@Palace despite a string of sponsors withdrawing their backing in the wake of his disastrous TV interview discussing his friendship with the late convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Yesterday, a Royal spokesman said the Duke will continue to work on the venture in a private capacity as he has stepped down from Royal duties.
High-profile business sponsors KPMG, Standard Chartered and Inmarsat, a British satellite telecommunications company, all said they would not renew their financial support for Pitch in the aftermath of Andrew’s interview with the BBC.
Barclays, a partner of the project, also ended its association on Friday following growing criticism of Andrew’s failure to show empathy for Epstein’s alleged victims.
A source close to a sponsor of Pitch said his desire to carry on as normal would not work.
The source said: “To say you’re stepping back from public life but then carry on is not a tenable position by the Palace, and I think the sponsor shares that view.”
Andrew had been due to be in the Middle East this weekend on behalf of the mentorship scheme for start-ups and tech entrepreneurs but cancelled the trip.
A spokeswoman for the Palace said: “The Duke will continue to work on Pitch and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties, and outside of Buckingham Palace.
“We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.”
Meghan Markle was also reported to have been left “troubled” by some of the Duke’s comments in the Newsnight interview.
A source close to the Duchess of Sussex’s team was reported to have said: “The interview left everyone watching it wanting to curl under a table. It just got worse and worse and worse.”
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Outward Bound Trust and Huddersfield University, announced they are no longer associated with Andrew.