Prince Andrew steps down from Pitch@Palace role as royal link is removed

Pitch at Palace

Prince Andrew has stepped down from his role at tech startup scheme Pitch@Palace.

The initiative, which the Duke of York founded to showcase entrepreneurs, is set to continue without any royal involvement.

The Duke has come under increasing pressure following his Newsnight interview over links to the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke announced earlier this week that he would step back from royal duties, and it emerged on Friday that he was stepping down from the organisation.

A source close to the discussions said the Duke had decided to “back away” from Pitch@Palace and was “no longer involved” with the scheme.

Earlier in the day it had emerged Prince Andrew had been forced to cancel a trip to Bahrain to promote the initiative, reportedly after coming under pressure from both the Queen and Prince Charles to postpone the visit.

Major sponsors including Standard Chartered, KPMG, Bosch and Inmarsat have already abandoned the scheme, as well as Advertising Week Europe and Gravity Road.

It is understood that Pitch@Palace, a mentoring programme which pairs investors with startups, will now be rebranded simply as Pitch.

The Duke’s former private secretary, who has reportedly departed over her role in organising the Newsnight interview, has become Pitch@Palace’s chief executive.

Amanda Thrisk had worked for the Duke since 2012, and, according to her Linkedin profile, has been a director of Pitch@Palace since 2014.

Pitch@Palace has also dropped a controversial requirement in its terms that entitled the Duke and his company to a two per cent stake in businesses that enter the competition, which had been widely condemned after being circulated online.