LONDON — After Prince Andrew’s interview defending his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, students, charities and businesses are reviewing their associations with the prince.
Andrew’s close ties with Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York prison cell in August, already cost him one job in 2011, when he quit his role as a trade envoy for the United Kingdom.
This round could be more punishing.
KPMG, Standard Chartered, Aon, University of Huddersfield, and Outward Bound are among the organizations that have suggested they are distancing themselves from the prince, or considering doing so. It’s hard to tell exactly who has jumped ship. On Tuesday, the ‘‘supporters’’ page on the prince’s flagship initiative brought up ‘‘page not found.’’
Andrew denies any wrongdoing, but his BBC interview Saturday was widely seen as a disaster. He tried to justify his relationship with Epstein and expressed no sympathy for his friend’s victims.
Students at the University of Huddersfield are calling for Prince Andrew to resign as their chancellor, a ceremonial post. On Monday evening, the university’s student union passed a motion, declaring it did not want to ‘‘be represented by a man with ties to organized child sexual exploitation and assault.’’
In an e-mail to The Washington Post, university officials said they would consult with the student union on the motion over the coming weeks.
Prince Andrew, like the rest of the ‘‘senior royals,’’ spends his days meeting and greeting at official ‘‘engagements.’’
He serves as the patron of more than 200 charities, everything from Army Officers’ Golfing Society to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
The prince also supports many organizations supporting military veterans, the disabled and underserved, and young men and women.
Dickie Arbiter, the queen’s former press secretary, said that there is ‘‘no hard and fast job description’’ for royals like Andrew. They carve out their own roles, in part by selecting which charitable groups they want to champion. The duke, he said, has done that ‘‘admirably for the past four decades.’’
Arbiter said that charities connected to Andrew, now, have a ‘‘difficult decision to make, effectively getting rid of a royal patron,’’ which in normal times would seem absurd. ‘‘But they can’t carry on in hopes of generating positive publicity if their patron has got a cloud hanging over him that’s not going away,’’ he said.
Some of the sponsors of his flagship business project — called Pitch@Palace — are dropping Andrew or pushing the pause button.
Standard Chartered, the banking multinational, said that they wouldn’t renew their sponsorship when it expired next month.
AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company and one of the sponsors for the project, told The Washington Post, ‘‘Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.’’
Aon, an insurance broker, asked that Pitch@Palace remove its logo from its website following the interview. They said they were wrongly listed there as a sponsor.
The prince is also a patron for Outward Bound Trust, where a spokeswoman confirmed that it would hold a special board meeting in the coming days. ‘‘On the agenda will be a discussion of the issues raised by the interview given by Prince Andrew on Saturday,’’ she said.
Asked about reports that KPMG, the multinational accountancy firm, was ending its support for the initiative, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: ‘‘KPMG’s contract with Pitch@Palace ended at the end of October. A full program of Pitch@Palace events is continuing across the United Kingdom.’’
Ironically, some public relations analysts say Andrew possibly did the interview with the aim of moving the conversation away from Epstein, so he could bolster his charitable works.
What does the 59-year-old former Royal Navy officer do with his golden years? If his health remains robust, Andrew will inevitably survive his father Prince Philip, 98, and his 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He will see his elder brother Charles assume the throne.
Then what for the divorced father of two?
When asked why Andrew may have taken part in the BBC interview, Mark Borkowski, a public relations and crisis consultant, said that perhaps the duke was ‘‘looking ahead at year in front of him 2020, 2021, and probably 50-70 percent of work he’d do in any given year not there,’’ because of the Epstein scandal.
‘‘When your purpose is threatened and challenged, and when your status is not what it was, for a man reaching 60 he doesn’t want to be that person he used to be on the golf course, so he had to up his game and draw a line under it,’’ Borkowski said.
When Andrew was asked by the BBC on Saturday how he planned to reconnect with the public, he talked about his projects Pitch@Palace and iDEA, the Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, where people can earn digital badges for new technical skills they master.
Andrew told the BBC he wanted to ‘‘continue to work with Pitch, to continue to work with iDEA and the things that I believe strongly in. I’m not somebody who does things in competition with people oddly. I do things in collaboration with people.’’