A royal event for entrepreneurs associated with Prince Andrew has been relocated from Buckingham Palace to a London hotel. The move comes weeks after the Duke of York stepped away from his royal duties in the wake of a disastrous television interview that found him clumsily responding to allegations that he had sex with an underage girl numerous times through his association with the late Jeffrey Epstein.
As the Daily Mail reports, the “Meet the Entrepreneurs” event, Pitch@Palace, was modeled on TV reality show “Dragons’ Den”, with aspiring entrepreneurs given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to some of Britain’s most influential investors.
According to the Mail, the event was scheduled to be held Wednesday at Buckingham Palace, but investors reportedly received a text from the Duke’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, announcing the venue had been changed at the last minute due to the U.K. election on Thursday.
Andrew was not scheduled to attend after agreeing to withdraw from his public duties last month. However, reports the Mail, he was hopeful he could “remain a figurehead for Pitch@Palace,” but was forced to step away after “several sponsors made it clear they no longer wanted his backing.” In addition, the Mail reports the organization is in the process of dropping the “Palace” from its name and rebranding.
Accounting firm KPMG announced last month it was ending its relationship with Pitch@Palace “due to ‘unsavoury’ issues stemming from the Duke’s friendship with Epstein,” while pharmaceutical firm Astrazeneca is currently reviewing its relationship with Pitch@Palace and insurance corporation Aon has requested to be removed from the Pitch@Palace website.
Meanwhile, at least 23 different organizations have cut ties with Andrew, including the English National Ballet, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Outward Bound Trust.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre has accused Andrew of having sex with her on three occasions when she was under 18, under the instructions of Epstein.
“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked. This is a story of abuse and this is a story of your royalty,” Roberts Giuffre said in a recent U.K. television interview, stating of Andrew: “He knows what happened. I know what happened, and there’s only one of us telling the truth, and I know that’s me.”