Prince Andrew promotes Pitch@Palace in 2017
Pitch@Palace is a Dragon’s Den-style platform which aims to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs by brokering deals between tech start-ups and wealthy investors. However, it has reportedly been put on pause after Andrew’s billionaire friend Johan Eliasch quit as director and 15 staff resigned in the space of a year. Royal expert Russell Myers has claimed this is due to uncertainty over whether the Duke of York will return to frontline duties or even his business activities.
Mr Myers argued that Andrew himself will be “toxic” unless he resolves the issue hanging over his head ‒ the scandal over Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and the FBI investigation.
It has now been over a year since his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview, after which he promised to cooperate with “any appropriate law enforcement agency”.
However, Andrew’s team has hit back, saying that Pitch@Palace is an events-based company and, due to coronavirus restrictions, is simply carrying out no operations that demand staff at the moment.
A spokeswoman for the Duke said any assumptions other than that are “baseless speculation”.
Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers.
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Prince Andrew has been out of the public eye since his BBC Newsnight interview about Jeffrey Epstein
Prince Andrew at a Pitch@Palace event in 2017
Mr Myers said: “Now, the issue for Prince Andrew is that he had been forced to step away from Buckingham Palace, forced to step away from his patronages, at least a lot of them.
“And it seems as though his flagship project Pitch@Palace and Pitch@Global have had a plethora of staff leave; they have had at least 15 staff leave the business over the past few months.
“And that’s because there is so much uncertainty about whether he will return to, let alone front line duties, whether he will actually return to his business activities as well.
“And I think it’s been widely reported that he is considered so toxic in nature until this business with the cases surrounding Jeffrey Epstein and cases surrounding Ghislaine Maxwell, who has recently been denied bail and is languishing in jail at the moment awaiting trial, whether he has any shot of ever returning.
“And I saw recently that, certainly a source close to him was saying, he does realise and recognise the fact that he can’t just step back into his old life until this is all sorted, and I thought that that was sugar-coating it somewhat.
Melania Trump (far left), Prince Andrew (second from left) and Jeffrey Epstein (far right)
“Because even if it does get sorted, he speaks to the FBI, it’s a long long road back for him and I imagine that’s what other people are thinking and probably trying to safeguard their own future by jumping ship.”
Ptich@Palace, which was founded in 2014, is in a “pause position”, according to a spokesman for the firm.
The project, which was previously based at Buckingham Palace, was thrown into disarray after Andrew’s disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis in November 2019.
The prince agreed to withdraw from public duty in the wake of this car crash TV appearance, but initially wanted to remain a figurehead for Pitch@Palace.
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Prince Andrew’s car crash interview with BBC Newsnight was in November 2019
However, the global arm, a private limited company, continued but gradually removed all references to the Duke of York from its homepage.
After the departure of 15 staff members, an accountant, Arthur Lancaster, is now overseeing it in an administrative role, which is the last remaining active role.
A spokesperson for Prince Andrew told Express.co.uk: “This story has been extensively covered in a number of news outlets.
“The answer now remains the same as it was then.
“An events-based company under current restrictions is undertaking no operations that demand staff.
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“The departure of Johan Eliasch is only part of Pitch’s administrative dormancy until its new strategic direction is decided post-pandemic.
“Any assumptions either side of that are baseless speculation.”
Accounts published this month show the business made £1.2million profits in 12 months to March last year.
However, assets had been reduced from £3,125,398 to £1,495,737.
Mr Myers emphasised the ongoing pressure on Andrew to speak to the authorities in the US, as he had promised he would over a year ago.
He said: “Not wishing to labour the point on Andrew, but I mean, we are more than a year from the Newsnight interview when he said he would cooperate with the authorities.
“Obviously he has denied any of the allegations in front of him.
“But the FBI and US prosecutors are still very very keen to speak to him and certainly the lawyers representing dozens of women are very keen for him to speak to those authorities and tell them what he knows.”
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