Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is to be replaced as the patron of Whitgift school in Croydon in the wake of the controversy surrounding his links withsex offender Jeffery Epstein.
Whitgift is a private boarding school in south Croydon, which was founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1596. It has around 1500 pupils and is built on Haling Park, a former country estate.
Prince Andrew had been a patron of the school since 2000, and last visited in May 2018 to open a water garden. The school has said it is now looking for a new patron.
Chris Ramsey, the headmaster of the school, said: “Following the Duke of York’s decision to stand aside from public duties, a decision has been made by the school and with the approval of the court of governors, to seek new patronages in the future.”
Epstein died August 10 in prison after being held on sex trafficking offences for which he was supposed to stand trial.
The two men were seen together on a number of occasions, and Prince Andrew visited Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands. In 2006, Epstein attended Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party after being charged with one count of solicitation of prostitution.
A BBC interview last week in which he failed to explain the relationship has led to him standing back from public duties for the time being.
Before the scandal, he was patron of 230 organisations and charities, although many of these have since removed him.
Prince Andrew said in an earlier statement that: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffery Epstein have become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
A spokesperson for the Duke of York declined to comment specifically on Whitgift dropping the Prince as a patron.