Organizers have withdrawn invitations for him to attend some engagements in Northern Ireland, reports Sky News. One of the hosts is said to believe that the royal’s presence would “change the narrative.”
The public engagements, including a ceremony at Portrush railway station, were cancelled at the request of hosts rather than the palace, Sky News reports.
A planned attendance by Andrew, 59, at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at the Royal Portrush golf course next week, however, is still going ahead.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson says, “The Duke of York has a full programme in Northern Ireland as founder of The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy. His Royal Highness will undertake a number of engagements related to the Tournament, at which there will be 66 sportsmen and women from 35 countries.”
“The Duke will meet volunteers, supporters and representatives from local businesses, host the Tournament dinner, attend the Tournament and present prizes.”
He visited Northern Ireland twice in July.
Andrew has made a series of statements about the sex abuse claims surrounding his former friend Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, 66,?died by suicide in jail, authorities confirmed on Aug. 16. The billionaire financier was discovered in cardiac arrest nearly a month after he was?arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls?as young as 14 and died in the hospital,?CNN?reported at the time.
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Buckingham Palace released a statement about how the Duke of York, 59, was “appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.”
In a second statement, the royal said: “It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr. Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life. This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr. Epstein. Therefore I am?eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation.”
“I met Mr. Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences. At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction,” he wrote. “I had said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I know of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know. I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour.”
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to a felony charge of solicitation of a minor and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. After serving 13 months, he was granted work release and registered as a sex offender.
The royal added: “His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr. Epstein’s lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”
This weekend, Andrew continues with his royal duties by heading to Bruges, in Belgium, to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the city. He is attending in his role as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. The Grenadiers have a historical association with Bruges, after being established when a Royal regiment was formed by King Charles II in the city in 1656. Andrew is to lay a wreath at the Charles II Memorial to commemorate the anniversary, before inspecting a Guard of Honor found by the Nijmegen Company of the Grenadier Guards at Market Square.