By Shane McGinley
Global entrepreneurial initiative founded by Prince Andrew, will continue, despite his stepping back from public life in November
Pitch@Palace, the global entrepreneurial initiative founded by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, will operate a full set of events as normal in the Middle East, despite the British royal stepping back from public over his controversial association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Pitch@Palace programme was founded by the Duke of York in 2014 and has helped 1,042 entrepreneurs in 64 countries, including the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
It held events in Abu Dhabi late last year and in September 2019 Mouza Al Nasri, Acting CEO of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, (KFED) the programme’s partner in the UAE, said in a statement to state news agency WAM that “over the past three years, we at the KFED have been proud of what we have accomplished through the Pitch@Palace UAE competition".
In November last year, following a much-criticised interview with the BBC, the Duke of York announced he was stepping back from his public duties.
“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,” the duke said in a statement.
The backlash from the BBC interview led to several corporate partners and sponsors severing their links with the Pitch@Palace programme, including Barclays, KPMG, Standard Chartered and Inmarsat, but Arabian Business has learnt that the initiative is pushing ahead with its plans in the Middle East.
“We are planning to run our Programme in the Middle East along the same lines as previously,” Amanda Thirsk, chief executive of Pitch Global, the company behind the Pitch@Palace programme, told Arabian Business, adding that the 2020 line-up of events would be announced soon.