Royals

Prince Andrew has stepped back from public royal duties for the foreseeable future

The eighth in line for the throne made the announcement amid criticism over his relationship with convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke of York has announced he is stepping back from public duties with his mother The Queen's permission in a statement released this morning, New Zealand time.
The announcement follows mounting criticism and pressure following an unprecedented interview Prince Andrew, 59, gave with the BBC to address his relationship with convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, with viewers widely receiving it as unrepentant.
"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances related 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," Prince Andrew began in his statement.
"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. 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."
Concluding: "Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
On the Royal Family's official website, Prince Andrew's public work is described as having a strong economic and business focus and concentrated on three core areas: education and skills, entrepreneurship and science and technology and engineering.
It adds that he splits his time between supporting The Queen and attending his own engagements "many of which help promote and reward the work of the 200-plus charities and organisations of which he is Patron."
The Queen has given permission for her second son to step back from his public duties. (Image: Getty)
During Prince Andrew's BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis he was pressed on his relationship with the disgraced financier, who died by suicide while in custody three months ago, and addressed the allegations laid against him by one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged she was forced to have sexual encounters with the prince as a teenager.
The Prince has categorically denied the allegations and in Sunday's interview claimed he couldn't have been there at the alleged time in 2001 as he had taken his eldest daughter Princess Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey.
Prince Andrew's interview with Newsnight received an incredible amount of backlash. (Image: BBC)
Since the interview, organisations and charities supported by the Prince have been distancing themselves, including his business initiative Pitch@Palace, with two universities in Australia, Murdoch University in Perth and RMIT (the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), tied to the initiative saying they will no longer participate.
Insurance company Aon has also removed the Pitch@Palace logo from their website, along with the initiative's founding partner accounting firm KPMG, which has said it will not renew its contract which ended in October.
While the Queen's second son has received a mountain of backlash, he has had the unwavering support of his former wife Sarah Ferguson who, ahead of the Newsnight interview airing, took to Twitter to share her support for the father of her two daughters.
"It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong in their beliefs," Fergie began in her tweet.
"Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness."
She also took to her personal Instagram account to share an extended message saying she was "with him every step of the way."
"I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man, that dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth. For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch," she writes on Instagram.
"It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour. We have always walked tall and strong, he for me and me for him. We are the best examples of joint parenting, with both our girls and I go back to my three C's .. Communicate Compromise Compassion."