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Prince Andrew faces backlash over interview on Epstein as organizations cut ties

Prince Andrew breaks his silence on Epstein

London — Charitable partners, educational institutions and businesses have distanced themselves from Britain's Prince Andrew following an interview he gave on his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  

Like most senior members of the royal family, Andrew is a patron for charities and other civic endeavors, lending his name and the backing of the monarchy to the good works of all manner of institutions. But supporters of undertakings connected to Andrew are now reconsidering whether they want to be associated with him after his effort to draw a line under the Epstein scandal backfired disastrously.

Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, granted a no-holds barred interview to BBC's Newsnight program to end years of speculation about his friendship with the tainted financier, who died in prison last summer while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. Andrew's failure to show empathy for the young women exploited by Epstein earned him widespread derision - and made corporate backers and universities think twice about their ties to this senior member of the House of Windsor.

Standard Chartered bank, a backer of Andrew's flagship entrepreneur project, Pitch@Palace, has decided not to renew its sponsorship for "commercial reasons.'' Professional services provider KPMG won't renew its support for the charitable initiative either, Britain's Press Association reported. Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said it is reviewing its three-year partnership, which is due to expire at the end of the year.

The fallout has not been limited to corporations. Andrew is a patron for dozens of organizations, and a few of the more prominent groups have acknowledged they are considering whether they want that bond to continue. London Metropolitan University is reviewing Andrew's role as patron, and students at the University of Huddersfield, where Andrew is chancellor, are objecting to being "represented by a man with ties to organized child sexual exploitation and assault.''

Prince Andrew becoming a liability for royal family after BBC interview

"Prince Andrew's association with a known paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein ... combined with the allegations made by Virginia Giuffre that Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her make him an utterly unsuitable representative for us here at the University of Huddersfield," according to a motion from a student panel. "We need to put survivors of sexual assault above royal connections and show students, alumni, and prospective students that this institution cares about their well-being, irrespective of the status of the alleged perpetrator."

It is unclear what might happen at Huddersfield, as the situation is so unprecedented there is no formal process for what comes next.

Two Australian universities, Bond University and RMIT University in Melbourne, also said Wednesday that they were cutting ties with the Pitch@Palace project.

The 59-year-old prince categorically denied claims that he had sex with Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein and had sex with Andrew on three occasions, including twice when she was 17.

Epstein died Aug. 10 in a New York prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, robbing his alleged victims a chance for their day in court. His death has been ruled a suicide by the city's medical examiner.

But in response to clinical questioning by the BBC's Emily Maitlis, Andrew responded with detailed answers that seemed insensitive to a public accustomed to emotional responses — particularly in an era in which social media has made even the rich and the powerful seem more accessible.

Prince Andrew sought approval from "higher up" before his BBC interview

Worse still, Andrew defended his previous friendship with the billionaire investor because of the contacts it provided when he was preparing for a role as Britain's special trade representative.

The interview was such a fiasco that Prince Andrew may even have become a liability for the British royal family, veteran royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah told CBS News this week.

"The repercussions have been incredibly negative for him, and at the moment it feels like dangerous times at Buckingham Palace," Nikkhah said.

Andrew has kept out of the public eye since the interview aired over the weekend, and it was unclear what he might do next. A lawyer representing multiple Epstein victims called on the prince to volunteer any information he has on the late financier's actions to U.S. law enforcement.

"Some advisors at Buckingham Palace might be suggesting that he lies low for a little bit, until this potentially dies down, or the dust settles," Nikkhah said. "But I suspect he will want to carry on with business as usual."

Given the growing number of organizations cutting ties with him, that may prove more difficult than he anticipated.

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