Prince Andrew. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/ via Getty Images

Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, announced Wednesday in a statement that Queen Elizabeth gave him permission to step away from his royal duties, saying "circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein [have] become a major disruption to my family's work."

The big picture: The move comes as the duke has faced growing backlash after a recent BBC interview in which he answered questions for the first time about his friendship with Epstein. He also denied ever having a sexual relationship with one of Epstein’s accusers, as she has claimed.

The impact: Following the interview, several firms announced they would withdraw support for the duke's business mentoring initiative, Pitch@Palace.

  • Accounting firm KPMG, a founding partner of Pitch@Palace, said its contract with the company expired in October and would not be renewed, according to the Guardian.
  • Banking services company Standard Chartered said it would not renew its contract either.
  • In total, 10 companies cut ties with Pitch@Palace as of Nov. 20.

What he's saying: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sypmathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure."

  • He added his willingness to help law-enforcement investigations into Epstein and possible co-conspirators.

Zoom out: The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is continuing its probe of Epstein after his death, focusing on those who may have aided his alleged abuse of underage girls.

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