- in In Pictures
Pitch@Palace, a Dragons’ Den-type mentoring network set up by Prince Andrew, has appeared to further distance itself from its royal founder.
The company, owned by the prince, had already moved from its Buckingham Palace base into new office space.
Now, the initiative has removed mention of the prince’s name from its website.
Prominent supporters turned their backs on Pitch@Palace after revelations about the prince’s friendship with disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Barclays, Standard Chartered and KPMG all cut ties after a BBC Newsnight interview about the royal’s relationship with the late sex offender.
The scheme connects start-up firms, often in the technology sector, with potential investors.
Until recently, its website welcomed visitors with the words: “The Duke of York founded Pitch@Palace to provide a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs.”
But as first reported in the Telegraph, that message has now been replaced with a note saying that Pitch@Palace is taking the first part of 2020 to “refresh the brand”.
Some, but not all, pictures of Prince Andrew have also been removed from the website.
The UK arm of Pitch@Palace is currently being wound up but its global operations remain active. It is not known whether the prince will play an active role in the initiative going forward.
In November, the duke announced that he would step back from royal duties because the Epstein scandal had become a “major disruption” to the Royal Family.
It followed an interview with Newsnight in which he said that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, despite the late financier having been convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008.
The prince did, however, say he regretted visiting Epstein at his Florida home in 2010.
Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, says she was trafficked to London by Epstein in 2001, when she was 17, and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew emphatically denies any form of sexual contact or relationship with her and says any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.
He said he has no recollection of ever meeting Ms Giuffre, who was previously known as Virginia Roberts.
He has since been criticised by the US prosecutor in charge of the investigation who said the prince had provided “zero co-operation” to the Epstein investigators.
Buckingham Palace said the prince’s legal team was dealing with the issue and that it would not be commenting further.