York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire Air Ambulance withdraws Prince Andrew connection

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central Park Image copyright News Syndication
Image caption Prince Andrew has previously said he regretted this 2010 meeting with Epstein

An air ambulance service has become the latest charity to withdraw its connection to the Duke of York.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) said "staff, volunteer and donor opinion" had led to the move by its trustee board.

It follows Prince Andrew's appearance on BBC Newsnight and the controversy over his ties to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The duke opened the air ambulance base at Nostell in 2015.

For several months the duke had been facing questions over his ties to US financier Epstein, who took his own life in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers, claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince three times. The duke has always denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

BT and Barclays have joined universities and other charities in distancing themselves from the duke.

YAA, which has become the latest charity to withdraw its connection, said: "As a charity funded generously by public donations, we must seriously consider the opinions of our donors and supporters, and this has been a significant factor in reaching this decision."

Prince Andrew, 59, announced on Wednesday he would step back from royal duties and all organisations he is patron of because the Epstein scandal had become a "major disruption" to the Royal Family.

Buckingham Palace had described it as "a personal decision" following discussions with the Queen and Prince Charles.

Image copyright Mark Harrison/BBC
Image caption Prince Andrew's resignation from all royal duties followed an interview on the BBC's Newsnight programme

He is no longer patron of the Outward Bound Trust, the English National Ballet, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Metropolitan University.

The University of Huddersfield has also said the prince would step down as chancellor.

The main role of a royal patron is to raise the profile and attract publicity for work done by charities.

The prince will no longer carry out public engagements but will still attend Royal Family events such as Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Sunday.

Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG also announced they were withdrawing support for the duke's business mentoring initiative Pitch@Palace, though sources told the BBC the decisions were made before the interview.

Four Australian universities also said they would not be continuing their involvement in Pitch@Palace Australia.

Prince Andrew also cancelled a planned visit to flood-hit areas of Yorkshire on 19 November, the Sun newspaper reported.

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