‘At least we’ve our own currency’: Prince Andrew pokes fun at EU nations suffering from collapse of euro
Duke of York said foreign firms should invest in Britain as ‘unlike other Euro nations it is open for business’
By Simon Walters
Last updated at 4:23 PM on 29th January 2012
Prince Andrew this week said foreign firms should invest in Britain, not other European nations, because ‘unlike them it is open for business’
Prince Andrew has risked causing another political controversy by poking fun at EU nations plunged into chaos by the collapse of the euro.
The Duke of York told entrepreneurs at the Davos summit in Switzerland that foreign firms should invest in Britain, not other European nations, because ‘unlike them it is open for business’.
And he boasted it had another huge advantage – its own currency, not the ailing euro.
Fresh questions were being raised about the Prince’s attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is staying in a luxury ski chalet – at the expense of the taxpayer, it has emerged.
His controversial remarks were made at a private cocktail party at the conference, attended by international political and business leaders.
They came on the eve of tomorrow’s EU summit in Brussels, where Prime Minister David Cameron faces another bruising confrontation over his refusal to accept EU curbs on the City of London.
Chancellor George Osborne and London Mayor Boris Johnson were also at the Davos reception, hosted by the Prince to promote British business, even though he is no longer a special envoy for UK Trade & Investment, the Government-backed body.
Prince Andrew was forced to quit the role last year following disclosures in The Mail on Sunday about his friendship with US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
But he was allowed to maintain a lower-profile role and was guest of honour at its reception for British business leaders in Davos on Thursday.
According to witnesses, he said in his welcoming speech: ‘The message to get across here tonight is that Britain is open for business – unlike one or two other countries I could mention.’
To warm applause, he added: ‘And what is more, we have our own currency!’
One businessman said: ‘He knew he was chancing his arm a bit but most of us thought his comments were great. That is what he is there for, to bang the drum for Britain.
‘If any European takes umbrage at what he said, they lack a sense of humour.’
The Duke of York has made hundreds of trips to promote Britain. But his role was dogged by claims of lavish spending. A spokeswoman declined to comment.
Questions have been raised over Prince Andrew’s role at the World Economic Forum, six months after he was forced to stand down at UK trade envoy over his friendship wit a convicted sex offender.
So far he has given a dinner for Indonesian businessmen, hosted a reception for UK trade delegates – including George Osborne – and held a one-to-one meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, the billionaire dictator of Azerbaijan.
This is despite him being forced to stand down as the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade last July, amid controversy over his friendship with sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein and his close links with despots.
The 51-year-old Duke has been accompanied to the event by two publicly-funded aides and royal protection officers.
Yesterday, he was spotted going in skiing in nearby Klosters, where he is staying in a luxury, eight-bedroom chalet – accommodation which could up to £39,000.
The bill for the chalet – which features its own chef, chauffeur, sauna and steam room – could cost anything between £21,000 and £39,000, and it is expected to be paid for out of taxpayers’ pockets.
The latest revelation about Prince Andrew has sparked outrage amongst his critics.
Shadow Justice Minister Chris Bryant told the Sunday Mirror: ‘I thought we had dispensed with his services. There were plenty of UK representatives – David Cameron, George Osborne, Andrew Mitchell – who could have all met with Aliyev if it was in our national interests.
‘At a time when everybody is feeling the pinch, it’s shocking Prince Andrew still thinks he should be entitled to an eight-bedroom mansion.’
The Duke’s meeting with President Aliyev only emerged through Azerbaihan state news agency, which released a picture of the pair together.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Andrew had been invited to the World Economic Forum and was attending in his capacity as a senior member of the Royal family.
He also added that his meeting with President Aliyev was one of many official engagements planned during his visit.
He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘His role is to continue to support UK business and travel overseas as a senior member of the family, and visits which were already in the diary will be kept. He will relinquishing it gradually.’