Scandal-hit Duke of York thought to have ended role with Pitch@Palace

The Duke of York has reportedly resigned from his role with his flagship business project Pitch@Palace after days of speculation about his future with the successful initiative he founded.

Andrew appears to have bowed to pressure and stepped down, with the move coming a day after one sponsor said his plans to continue leading Pitch were "not tenable".

High profile business sponsors KPMG, Standard Chartered and Inmarsat, a British satellite telecommunications company, have all said they will not be renewing their financial support for Pitch.

The beleaguered royal also faces the prospect of Virginia Giuffre, who alleges she had under-age sex with the duke, being interviewed on BBC's Panorama programme early in December.

And the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) became the latest organisation to confirm Andrew would no longer be its figurehead, following the controversy around his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In a statement, an RPO spokesperson said: "Following HRH The Duke of York's announcement that he will be stepping back from public life, management representatives of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) met with Prince Andrew's office on Thursday afternoon.

"At a subsequent meeting of the RPO Board, it was decided that the Orchestra should part company with its patron, with immediate effect.

"The RPO would like to express its gratitude to His Royal Highness for his support of the Orchestra over the past 15 years."

Andrew was expected to travel to the Middle East this weekend as part of his Pitch project but has cancelled plans following reported pressure from his family.

It has also been reported his private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, has been removed from her palace-funded role and will instead become the chief executive of Pitch.

The Daily Mail said Ms Thirsk, believed to have been the driving force behind Andrew's Newsnight interview, will now run the business mentorship scheme for start-ups and tech entrepreneurs after she was dismissed on Thursday.

Ms Thirsk will also manage the Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award after the duke quit his life as a working royal on Wednesday.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman would not comment on reports the duke had stepped down from leading Pitch.

She said: "The duke will continue to work on Pitch and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties, and outside of Buckingham Palace.

"We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place."

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