Britain's Prince Andrew says he is stepping back from public duties with the Queen's permission.

Andrew said it has become clear to him in recent days that his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has become a "major disruption" to the royal family's work.

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He said Wednesday he regrets his association with Epstein and that he "deeply sympathises" with his victims.

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In a statement this morning, Andrew said: "I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

Britain's Prince Andrew has stepped down from public duties. Photo / AP
Britain's Prince Andrew has stepped down from public duties. Photo / AP

It comes after the Duke was today seen for the first time since his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis on Saturday about Epstein which caused a furious public backlash.

He seemed to show no remorse for his close association with a convicted sex offender who had abused many underage girls.

Some charities that he has worked with as a patron have said they were reviewing their association with the prince because of his actions.

He was forced to cancel a visit to the flood-hit towns of Fishlake and Stainforth, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, yesterday. A source said his trip – which was not publicised in advance – was scrapped as a result of the fall-out.

The Duke had told Maitlis in his appearance that he did not have sex with Virginia Roberts, who says she slept with him when she was 17.

In the statement from the palace, Andrew said: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffry 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."

Britain's former state phone company is the latest organisation to distance itself from Prince Andrew after the prime time television interview threw fuel on the fire of the controversy surrounding his relationship with convicted child sex offender Epstein.

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BT Group indicated it would continue working with iDEA, a group that offers free digital and enterprise training, only if it drops the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II's second son.

"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," a spokeswoman for the London-based telecommunications company said by email.

Andrew, 59 and eighth in line to the throne, spoke to the BBC on Sunday in a special edition of its "Newsnight" show about his relationship with the disgraced financier Epstein, who killed himself three months ago while in custody. He faced questions about allegations made by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers, who has said she was forced into sexual encounters with the prince as a teenager.

Andrew said he had no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre. Photo / supplied
Andrew said he had no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre. Photo / supplied

The prince denied those allegations and claimed he was at the mid-market Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, south England, on the night in 2001 when one incident is alleged to have taken place. He said he does not regret being friends with Epstein.

Other organisations have also distanced themselves from Andrew, including his business initiative Pitch@Palace. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said its three-year partnership with the program is due to expire at the end of this year and is being reviewed.

Insurance broker Aon Plc asked for its logo be removed from Pitch@Palace's website, saying it had been wrongly listed as a sponsor while banking group Standard Chartered said it wouldn't renew its sponsorship when it expires next month for commercial reasons.

It's difficult to estimate how many sponsors may have cut ties. Pitch@Palace's "supporters" page now shows a "page not found" error.

Students at the University of Huddersfield are calling for Andrew to resign as their chancellor. In a motion, the university's student union said they should "not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault."

Pressed on Andrew's friendship with Epstein in a live TV debate Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach." Earlier that day, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said Epstein's victims should be the main concern for anyone discussing this case, before refusing to comment on calls for the prince to be interviewed by the FBI.

- AP, with additional reporting from the Washington Post