Several of Prince Andrew's public engagements in Northern Ireland have been cancelled by hosts over his friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to Sky, one organisation expressed concern that the royal's presence would "change the narrative" surrounding their event. He was due to attend a ceremony at Portrush railway station, which has just had a £5million upgrade. However, Andrew is still due to attend a youth golf tournament on the North Anrtrim coast.
Prince Andrew's engagements in Northern Ireland have been cancelled
Last month, the Prince was forced to comment directly on his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. In a statement, he said: "I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation. I have stayed in a number of his residences. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."
He added: "I have 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 knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know." The comments come shortly after footage emerged allegedly showing Andrew inside the disgraced financier's Manhattan mansion, back in 2010.
The royal is still due to attend a youth golf tournament on the North Anrtrim coast
The Duke of York previously announced that he was "appalled" by the sex abuse claims levelled at his former friend, in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace. The full statement read: "The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent."
Prince Andrew was on holiday while the Epstein controversy was brought to light, but returned to royal duties last week at a regatta in Dartmouth. A palace spokesperson has since said: "The Duke of York has a full programme in Northern Ireland as founder of The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy. HRH 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."
Make sure you never miss a ROYAL story! Sign up to our newsletter to get all of our celebrity, royal and lifestyle news delivered directly to your inbox.