$500,000 for duke with few du­ties

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - STEPHEN DRILL

PRINCE An­drew will still re­ceive almost $500,000 a year for do­ing noth­ing af­ter he stepped down from royal du­ties over his friend­ship with con­victed pae­dophile Jef­frey Ep­stein.

In one of the big­gest royal scan­dals in decades, An­drew dropped a bomb­shell early yes­ter­day when he an­nounced he was tak­ing a break from royal du­ties for the “fore­see­able fu­ture”.

And he has sig­nalled he will give ev­i­dence to the FBI about their on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ep­stein’s evil world.

Buck­ing­ham Palace con­firmed to News Corp Aus­tralia that the Duke of York’s al­lowance of £249,000 per year would con­tinue.

“The Duke of York is funded pri­vately by the Queen,” a Buck­ing­ham Palace spokes­woman said yes­ter­day.

“The only tax­payer money is for travel.”

An­drew’s de­ci­sion to step down from pub­lic life means tax­pay­ers will not be foot­ing the bill for him di­rectly any­more.

How­ever, much of the Queen’s wealth, gen­er­a­tionally, has been in­her­ited based on pre­vi­ous tax­payer funds.

An­drew’s last full-time job was in the Navy, but he left the ser­vice 18 years ago.

He still man­ages to main­tain prop­er­ties in Eng­land and a $25 mil­lion chalet in Switzer­land.

There are ques­tions about how he man­aged to fund his life­style.

The Duke of York, 59, made the shock an­nounce­ment he was step­ping down as spon­sors in­clud­ing ma­jor com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany BT and Bar­clays Bank started walk­ing away from his char­i­ta­ble causes. It was a ma­jor de­ci­sion and has been signed off by the Queen fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous BBC in­ter­view at the week­end.

An­drew said in a state­ment that he had lis­tened to the crit­i­cism lev­elled at him this week.

“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,” he said.

“There­fore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from pub­lic du­ties for the fore­see­able fu­ture, and she has given her per­mis­sion.”

An­drew, who was crit­i­cised for fail­ing to of­fer sym­pa­thy to Ep­stein’s vic­tims in his in­ter­view, said he re­gret­ted his friend­ship with the high fly­ing fi­nancier who killed him­self in jail on Au­gust 10.

“I con­tinue to un­equiv­o­cally regret my ill-judged as­so­ci­a­tion with Jef­frey Ep­stein,” he said.

“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.

“Of course, I am will­ing to help any ap­pro­pri­ate law en­force­ment agency with their in­ves­ti­ga­tions, if re­quired.”

Ep­stein was fac­ing child sex traf­fick­ing charges be­fore his death and was ac­cused of procur­ing young girls for his friends. An­drew has de­nied claims that he slept with Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre when she was 17, who he was pic­tured with in a no­to­ri­ous pho­to­graph where he had his arm around her waist.

His ex­pla­na­tions that he could not have been with her in­cluded tak­ing his daugh­ter to a Pizza Ex­press restau­rant, that he didn’t sweat and that

he was not af­fec­tion­ate in pub­lic.

How­ever, pho­to­graphs of the prince being close to sev­eral women and at­tend­ing a night­club that Ms Roberts Gi­uf­fre, who now lives in Cairns, had claimed they danced in have un­der­mined his de­fences.

An­drew had said that he did not regret his friend­ship with Ep­stein dur­ing the BBC in­ter­view but has since had a change of heart.

KPMG and Asian-fo­cused bank Stan­dard Char­tered ended their spon­sor­ships of his [email protected] events, while Lon­don Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity and Hud­der­s­field Univer­sity were also re­con­sid­er­ing their as­so­ci­a­tions.

An­drew had un­der­taken more than 200 en­gage­ments this year.

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