Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke of York is to step back from public life ‘for the foreseeable future’ last night, as reverberations from his disastrous TV interview continue.

In a statement, Prince Andrew said: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has 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.

READ MORE: Baroness Helena Kennedy: Prince Andrew 'would risk arrest' if he speaks to FBI about Epstein 

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency.”

The announcement came as charities, businesses and student associations moved to distance themselves from the prince.

Last night students at the University of Huddersfield were lobbying to have Prince Andrew removed from his position as its patron, with the social media hashtag #notmychancellor. He was appointed chancellor in 2015 in recognition of his entrepreneurship.

The board of the youth charity Outward Bound, which is based in Cumbria and also registered in Scotland, has confirmed it is to meet to discuss the Duke’s patronage of its work, in the light of revelations about his friendship with the late child sex-abuser Jeffrey Epstein.

The Prince has been widely criticised for his attempts to justify his continued connections with the billionaire financier – who took his own life in prison while facing sex trafficking charges involving dozens of underage victims.

HeraldScotland:

Barclays joined a number of Australian institutions in reviewing its involvement with Pitch@Palace, the Prince’s tech entrepreneurship organisation, while BT said it would only continue its backing of a digital skills awards scheme if Prince Andrew is dropped as patron. London Metropolitan University is also considering the duke’s role as its patron.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew failed to show any compassion for the victims 

The Prince is listed as patron of more than 200 charities, including 24 children’s charities. His Pitch@Palace and iDEA – the Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award – are among the initiatives he has close involvement with which relate to his interest in business development.

Barclays had renewed its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace in recent months. But a spokesman for the bank said: “Pitch@Palace as an organisation has made an undeniable impact on supporting entrepreneurs and creating new jobs, which is why we are keen to support the programme. However, we are concerned about the current situation and are keeping our position under review.”

BT called for Andrew to be removed as patron of iDEA and downplayed his role. A spokesman for BT said: “We have been working with the company since its launch in 2017 and our dealings have been with its executive directors, not its patron, the Duke of York.

“iDEA was a natural partner for our new Skills for Tomorrow programme. However, in light of recent developments, we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage.”

Buckingham Palace said the duke was still the patron of iDEA and there was nothing to add on the matter.

Accountancy giant KPMG and the Standard Chartered bank have both announced they will not renew their support of Pitch@Palace, meanwhile Murdoch University in Perth has ended its relationship with Pitch@Palace Australia, joining Bond University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Andrew was accused of showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims in the interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis.

He was also widely ridiculed over the credibility of his denials in respect of claims that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was under age. These included the fact that he claims not to have been able to sweat.

Meanwhile further allegations of racism emerged as former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she had witnessed the duke making ‘racist comments about Arabs that were unbelievable’ at a Buckingham Palace state banquet. The comments follow claims from a former aide of the Prince that he used the phrase ‘n***er in the woodpile’ during discussions about trade policy at the palace.

A palace spokesman said in response to Ms Smith’s allegation: “HRH has undertaken a considerable amount of work in the Middle East over a period of years and has many friends from the region. He does not tolerate racism in any form.” He added that Andrew would be continuing his role focusing on tech entrepreneurs.

A number of charities and organisations are yet to clarify whether their association with Andrew will change. A spokesman for the Foundation for Liver Research said: “It is a matter for the trustees, who will consider it in due course.”

The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where Andrew’s daughter, Princess Eugenie, underwent corrective spinal surgery at the age of 12, both confirmed that the duke was a patron but refused to comment further.

A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), confirmed that the Prince had been a patron of its Full Stop campaign to end child abuse, but said that association had ended with the campaign itself in 2009.

Andy Hillier, editor of the charity trade magazine Third Sector said the controversy posed a dilemma for charities with a connection to the Prince and had already called for Andrew to step back from his public and charitable duties ahead of the announcement from the Palace.

“In *theory*, he’s done nothing wrong. But now charities are facing awkward questions about what they’re going to do next,” Hillier said in a post on Twitter.