LONDON, July 22 (UPI) -- Britain's Prince Andrew will step down as the country's trade envoy, focusing now on increasing training and apprenticeships in Britain, Buckingham Palace said.
Prince Andrew accepted the shift in his role four months after being criticized for associating with a convicted U.S. billionaire sex offender, The Guardian reported Friday.
After refusing to discuss media reports that Prince Andrew would be stepping down as trade envoy, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying he would "undertake trade engagements if requested."
The Guardian said it was anticipated Prince Andrew would focus on boosting business in Britain and take on a role in the government's plans to increase the number of industrial apprenticeships and training for young people.
The announcement follows pressure the prince and ministers experienced in March after it was revealed he maintained contact with the U.S. billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, jailed in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution, and that Epstein had given more than $24,000 to Andrew's former wife Sarah Ferguson to help her lower some of her debts. He was also criticized for using private jets and helicopters instead of scheduled flights for his trips, and for his links with foreign dictators and suspicious businessmen.