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Great Britain

Prince Andrew fires loyal aide just one day after he was given the boot as Queen lays down the law

SMILING Prince Andrew travelled to ­Buckingham Palace today to tell his most loyal aide she was being sacked.

Private Secretary Amanda Thirsk was fired by the Queen over the TV interview which ended the Duke’s frontline royal career.

Her Majesty is also expected to order the Duke of York and all his staff out of their Buckingham Palace offices.

Pressure from horrified family members has even forced Andrew, 59, to cancel a planned trip to Bahrain via private jet this weekend.

His laughing former wife Sarah Ferguson arrived at the Palace today to support him “100 per cent”, to the fury of staff.

Andrew was stripped of royal duties yesterday amid anger over his links to billionaire paedo Jeffrey Epstein.

Ms Thirsk, his private secretary, was told today by Andrew she was being fired after his disastrous Newsnight interview on Saturday.

But, in a move that will astonish courtiers, Andrew is planning to employ her privately.

The divorced mum of three previously boasted she was so close to him her office is steps from his bedroom at the Palace.

'GENUINE FURY'

A friend of the Duke revealed: “It’s been a very grim 24 hours for Andrew. But it got even worse today because he had to break the news to Amanda that the Queen will not continue to fund her role as private secretary.

“There is a genuine fury because she was the driving force behind the Newsnight interview and the person that arranged for it to be filmed at Buckingham Palace.”

The Queen is also expected to order Andrew and his staff to leave their Palace offices – or face a hefty bill to rent them privately.

The friend added: “There is no longer a need for the Queen to fund Andrew’s private secretary or office from the Sovereign Grant because he no longer has a public role.

“There will be a transition period for the staff to move out of Buckingham Palace. But Andrew has assured Amanda she will keep working for him in another role. It’s astonishingly arrogant.”

Tonight Buckingham Palace refused to comment on individual staff members.

Andrew’s ex-wife — and current romantic interest — Sarah also arrived laughing earlier in the afternoon, sparking further fury among stunned staff. The mother of two intends to stand by Andrew “100 per cent”, according to friends.

One said: “She is being a tower of strength and is supporting him totally, as are his daughters.

“Mind you, Sarah does have a lot to answer for.

“She introduced Andrew to Epstein, took money off him and she was also pushing for Andrew to do the disastrous interview.

“Sarah might be loyal and devoted, but she can also be responsible for many problems.

“And it was not the right moment for her to show up in front of the cameras.”

We can also reveal Andrew has been forced to cancel a trip to Bahrain this weekend after coming under intense pressure from members of the Royal Family.

They were stunned the Duke was still planning to travel by private jet to the Persian Gulf kingdom for his [email protected] global initiative.

A source close to Andrew said he regarded it as a private venture because it is a registered company that publishes its accounts – but he agreed to cancel.

They said: “The fact is that Andrew has always enjoyed travelling abroad and networking and is loathe to give it up.

“All of his expenses are paid for and he meets a lot of movers and shakers, as he mentioned in his Newsnight interview when he was a friend of Epstein. In recent months he has been in Australia, Abu Dhabi and Thailand with Pitch.

“He knows a lot of wealthy people and many are friends, and of course he has met a lot of glamorous women as a result. But everyone at the Palace was horrified he was considering a trip like that this week with everything going on.

“So it was made clear to him in no uncertain terms that it would be very unwise and he cancelled the trip last night.”

Andrew is planning to avoid any travel to the US where a probe into Epstein — found dead in jail in August — is taking place.

The source said: “One place he won’t be going to if he can help it is America.

'FEARS BEING ARRESTED'

“If he is to be interviewed by the FBI or investigators he would want them to interview him in the UK.

“He genuinely fears being arrested if he enters the States.”

Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was forced to have sex with the Prince when she was 17, said ­today she welcomed his withdrawal from public life.

In a statement, her lawyer Sigrid McCawley said: “It is a positive first step towards taking responsibility for his actions.”

But she said he needed to answer questions about his “long-term association” with pal Ghislaine Maxwell.

She claimed Ms Maxwell “was Epstein’s co-conspirator and played a central role in devastating the lives of countless women”.

Andrew told Emily Maitlis in the calamitous interview he did not remember meeting Virginia. But he previously “emphatically denied” that he had “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with her.

More sever Duke links

By Daniel Hammond

ORGANISATIONS continued to sever ties with Prince Andrew today amid the outcry over his links with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Outward Bound Trust, which organises outdoor adventure trips for children, today said it had accepted his resignation.

It was a body blow for the Duke just eight months after he took over the role from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, a director of the organisation since 1953.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions ditched him as president after 20 years’ involvement, while Huddersfield University said he had stepped down as chancellor.

It came as Buckingham Palace confirmed Andrew would continue with his [email protected] initiative but in a private capacity.

However, high-profile backers KPMG, Standard Chartered and satellite company Inmarsat, have all said they were withdrawing financial support.

A lawyer for Epstein’s victims said tonight he should submit himself to an interview with investigators “without delay”.

Andrew promised to help law enforcement agencies “if required”.

But Gloria Allred said: “The best way for him to begin to repair his damaged reputation would be to sit for an interview as soon as possible. There is no need to wait for a gold engraved invitation.”

Grinning Prince Andrew returns to Buckingham Palace after being sacked by Queen and losing £250k salary over Epstein scandal

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