Duke of York visits Thailand summit as founder of start-up mentoring scheme

The Duke of York has attended a summit of South-East Asian leaders in Thailand as part of the start-up mentorship scheme he founded.

Andrew was seen at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Sunday.

The 59-year-old royal attended the conference as part of Pitch@Palace, an entrepreneur support organisation he founded in 2014.

Pitch@Palace has helped 931 start-up technology businesses to date and provides mentorship and links to potential investors.

Andrew arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, on Saturday and was met by the British Ambassador to Thailand Brian Davidson and Jirayu Isarngkul Na Ayudhya, Privy Councillor to the King of Thailand.

On Sunday morning, Andrew attended a preparation event for the Pitch@Palace initiative prior to a business pitch contest to be held on Monday.

The conference will hear pitches from a number of entrepreneurs and the start-up with the best pitch of the contest will then travel to St James’ Palace on December 11.

After the Sunday morning event, Andrew visited the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Bangkok’s Impact Exhibition Centre.

The event agenda included international trade, sustainable development and the future of industrialisation.

The Duke of York’s appearance at the event comes after he made international headlines during the summer over his links with disgraced financier Jeffery Epstein.

The ASEAN summit has also featured meetings with world leaders and a speech from UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres about the plight of 730,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees from Burma.

ASEAN leaders meet each year to discuss policies on pressing issues while also maintaining a non-interference policy in their neighbour’s affairs.

The Duke of York giving a speech
Andrew spoke at the business summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand (AP/Sakchai Lalit)

Mr Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the numbers of refugees living in difficult conditions after the Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017 when Burma’s military began a harsh counterinsurgency campaign.

Andrew has faced criticism about his links with Epstein, who was found hanged in his New York prison cell on August 10 while facing sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

The duke categorically denies any wrongdoing.

Buckingham Palace has also been forced to issue strong denials over allegations made by Virginia Roberts in court papers in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.

The palace called the allegations “false and without any foundation”, saying “any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.

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