Royal Free hospital workers call for Duke of York to be stripped of patron role
'He's a decent bloke', says Duke Of York pub
24 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Prince Andrew visiting Camden Town in 2015
FURIOUS hospital workers are calling for under-fire Prince Andrew to be stripped of his official role as patron of the Royal Free.
Senior managers, union leaders and the Hampstead hospital’s staff are due to meet to consider the NHS trust’s long-standing relationship with the Duke of York following a raft of complaints, the New Journal understands.
The Queen’s son has dominated the national news agenda since Saturday’s “car crash” interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis over the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking scandal.
“It needs to be looked at,” hospital Unison rep Jim Mansfield said yesterday (Wednesday). “We have a meeting with management and then the staff. The issue will be raised at the meeting.”
A Royal Free spokeswoman last night would not comment further, other than to say “we can confirm he is our patron”.
The Prince has performed ceremonial ribbon-cutting duties as “royal patron” of the Pond Street hospital and its fundraising charity since 1998. In May this year he officially opened a £200million hospital building run by the Royal Free group, helping staff bury a time capsule before praising “unsung” work by NHS staff.
Several businesses and universities have this week begun reviewing their association with the Prince following the interview.
John Lipetz, treasurer of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: “The Royal Free should consider its position and decide to remove him as patron.”
A hospital worker, who asked to remain anonymous because NHS contracts prevent staff talking to the press, said it was “outrageous” that managers had not put out a statement, adding: “It is inappropriate that he is patron of the hospital and undertakes prominent public duties on its behalf.”
Prince Andrew has strenuously denied accusations made by Virginia Giuffre who has said that she had sex with him after being trafficked to this country by Epstein, a US financier found dead in August.
On Tuesday, London Met – the university in Holloway Road – put out a statement saying it “will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our patron”, adding: “The university opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the university’s values.”
The Royal Free Hospital Charity, which raises funds to support the work of the hospital, has a list of patrons who have agreed to be official supporters of the NHS hospital and to “champion cutting-edge treatments, facilities and research”.
In a statement last night (Wednesday), the Duke of York 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.”
Pub sticking with name: ‘He is a decent man, a real credit to the Royal Family’
The landlords of The Duke of York pub in Rathbone Street, Fitzrovia – named after the Prince – have reminded critics he has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing and “he has done nothing wrong”.
In a statement, the landlord of the pub – which has Prince Andrew’s official portrait on its outdoor signs – said: “He is a decent bloke, a family man and a real credit to the Royal Family and this country. I’ll also never forget that Prince Andrew served our country bravely during The Falklands War.”