Prince Andrew Under Pressure As Corporate Sponsors Pull Support

Forbes Finance 2 weeks ago
The Queen & Duke Of Edinburgh Open The Francis Crick Institute
Corporate sponsors to Prince Andrew's business initiatives are reconsidering their ties following ... [+] his BBC newsnight interview

Topline: Major sponsors, universities and charities are either cutting ties or reviewing their links with Prince Andrew following a damaging BBC Newsnight interview in which he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Here is a list of those organizations:

  • Telecoms firm BT said it was reviewing its sponsorship of the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, for which Andrew is a patron. BT said in an email: “In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage”. It added that its dealings with the award did not involve the royal.
  • Pitch@Palace, a global business mentoring scheme launched by the Duke of York in 2014, has seen corporate sponsors pull out since the broadcast of the interview on Saturday. Accounting firm KPMG withdrew its $130,000 (£100,000) sponsorship of the initiative on Tuesday, while Standard Chartered bank also removed its support, citing commercial reasons.
  • Cybersecurity firm Cisco decided not to renew its support in April this year, and its final engagement was in June, it said in an email.
  • A spokeswoman for British insurance firm Aon, whose logo was on the initiative’s website, told Forbes: “I can confirm that Aon is not, and never has been, a ‘global partner’ of Pitch@Palace, which is why we asked for our logo to be removed from the website.”
  • Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca is reviewing its ties to Pitch@Palace, the BBC reported.
  • In Australia, Bond University, Melbourne Institute of Technology and Murdoch University said they would terminate their roles as host partners of Pitch@Palace Australia, while the University of Wollongong is reviewing its support. Hult International Business School in the United States has also promised to review its links with Pitch@Palace.
  • Students at the University of Huddersfield voted in favour of removing Prince Andrew as chancellor, a position he has held since 2015. A motion that gained unanimous support from the student’s union read: “We...should not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault.”
  • London Metropolitan University says it will review the royal’s role as patron at the next board of governors meeting on November 26.
  • Outward Bound Trust, a charity that encourages outdoor adventures for children, is to hold a board meeting this week to discuss Andrew’s position as its patron.

News peg: The interview, which aired on Saturday night, was panned by critics as a disaster putting Prince Andrew, and the U.K.’s Royal family, at the centre of a global media storm. Andrew claims he did not see anything suspicious when he was around Epstein, and he again denied claims that he had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she was 17. He also suggested that a well-known picture showing him with his arm around her could have been faked, and said he did not regret his relationship with Epstein because of the business opportunities it provided him. 

Key background: Prince Andrew and Epstein’s friendship stretched before and after the financier’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor. The Duke of York might have hoped a TV interview would clear the air and end speculation over his ties to the disgraced financier but instead the broadcast has raised new questions, and a harsh public backlash.

A number of Epstein’s alleged victims have urged to prince to talk to the FBI. The prince has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Epstein killed himself in August while in custody awaiting trial for charges of sex-trafficking.


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