Prince Andrew: Portsmouth charity says it 'appreciates' work of patron as he steps back from public duties
A YOUTH charity has said it does ‘appreciate’ the work of its patron the Duke of York as he steps down from public duties.
Prince Andrew said his retreat will last ‘for the foreseeable future’ as he is mired in controversy over his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein who died by suicide in prison.
The Queen’s 59-year-old second son announced his decision just days after giving a BBC Newsnight interview where said his friendship with Epstein was ‘actually very useful’.
The duke, father to princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, is patron of the Tall Ships Youth Trust based at The Hard in Portsea, Portsmouth.
National newspapers have reported Prince Andrew stepping aside means 189 charities will need to find new patrons.
But a Tall Ships Youth Trust spokeswoman said: ‘As discussed, we appreciate the Duke of York’s Patronage of our charity and we will not be commenting on the current media speculation.’
The trust offers life-changing experiences at sea for disadvantaged children, and in October last year the prince hosted the launch of a fundraising appeal at St James’s Palace.
In 2013 the duke opened the new education and resettlement centre for sailors at Portsmouth Naval Base.
In 2010, while still UK trade envoy for the government, he visited Portsmouth-based firearms manufacturer Accuracy International.
And in December 2006 he visited South East Energy Recovery Centre in Quatremaine Road, having visited Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral in 2005. In 2001 he was in Portsmouth visiting what was St Luke's School.
He has denied allegations from Virginia Giuffre, previously known as Virginia Roberts, as she alleged he had been ‘profusely sweating’.
The former Royal Navy helicopter pilot told BBC Newsnight he could not sweat at the alleged time due to an ‘overdose of adrenaline’ when he was shot at in the Falklands conflict.
He said an alleged encounter with Ms Giuffre 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.
Ms Giuffre alleged the duke sweated heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.
But Andrew said he had the Falklands conflict-linked medical condition at the time.
During the Falklands conflict the prince flew anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare, inter-ship helicopter delivery, search and rescue, and casualty evacuation missions.
Prince Andrew returned from the Falklands conflict onboard HMS Invincible on September 17 in 1982. Then an officer of sub lieutenant rank, he was met by the Queen and his father The Duke of Edinburgh.
In his 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.
‘I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.’
Prince Andrew’s lifestyle is paid for at least in part by some of the Queen’s £21.7m a year Duchy of Lancaster income.
The duke, who was promoted to Vice Admiral in February 2015, is also patron of the Royal Winchester Golf Club, and the Jubilee Sailing Trust in Southampton. He left the Royal Navy after 22 years of service between 1979-2001.