Prince Andrew's continued role as patron of Royal Portrush Golf Club to come under scrutiny

Ben Rumsby
The Duke's decision to step back from his royal duties will be on the agenda of the club at a meeting next month - R&A
The Duke's decision to step back from his royal duties will be on the agenda of the club at a meeting next month - R&A

The venue for this year’s Open Championship plans to discuss seeking a new patron following the Duke of York’s unprecedented withdrawal from public life over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, the Daily Telegraph has learnt.

Royal Portrush Golf Club, which staged the 148th edition of golf’s oldest major in July, confirmed on Thursday that the Duke’s decision to step back from his royal duties would be on the agenda at its next meeting.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

“The allegations surrounding Prince Andrew, and especially the trauma and distress suffered by the victims of Jeffrey Epstein is a matter of deep regret,” the club said in a statement.

“Royal Portrush will continue to monitor the ongoing investigative process. There are no scheduled plans for him to return to the club.

“The council of Royal Portrush is acutely aware of the widespread public concern about these allegations, and Prince Andrew’s decision to step away from public duties will be discussed at our next meeting.”

<span>A visit to Royal Portrush Golf Club in September was among Prince Andrew’s first in public since the scandal broke over his friendship with disgraced financier Epstein</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
A visit to Royal Portrush Golf Club in September was among Prince Andrew’s first in public since the scandal broke over his friendship with disgraced financier Epstein Credit: PA

It is planned for those discussions next month to include the patronage of the Duke, who announced his decision days after a BBC interview over his friendship with Epstein backfired in spectacular fashion.

During the interview, he denied any sexual contact with one of convicted paedophile Epstein’s accusers, who says she was forced to have sex with the Duke aged 17.

The venue for the 2022 Open, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, also said on Thursday that it would “not call upon” its patron’s services during his exile.

It, too, faced a decision whether to seek a replacement for the Duke after Buckingham Palace sources confirmed that almost 200 charities and other organisations to receive his patronage would no longer do so “for the foreseeable future”. Many were expected to seek alternative figureheads.

Thirty two of them are golf clubs or entities associated with the sport, with Royal Portrush and Royal Liverpool two of the most high-profile.

Visits to the clubs in September were among Prince Andrew’s first in public since the scandal broke over his friendship with disgraced financier Epstein. 

The Duke is also a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which will stage the 150th Open in 2021. He is the only royal to have served on a committee there and was captain for the year of its 250th anniversary.

The R&A would confirm only that he was a member, while Women’s Open venue Sunningdale Ladies’ Golf Club declined to comment on the status of the Duke’s patronage there.

Of his remaining 17 sporting patronages, three more could reasonably be deemed high profile: Badminton England, Badminton Wales, and York Racecourse.

None responded to requests for comment.

What to Read Next