The Queen has stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles and royal patronages following a US judge who allowed the trial of a civil sex abuse case involving her son.
The Duke of York will now defend the case of a ‘private citizen’ announced by Buckingham Palace, as it is believed he will cease to be addressed as His Royal Highness HRH in any official capacity.
On another very damaging day, courtiers sought to stem the damage to the reputation of the monarchy by removing the duke from official royal life while alienating him from the extended family.
In a statement, the palace said: “With the Queen’s approval and consent, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.
“The Duke of York will continue to hold no public office and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Follow live updates on Virginia Giuffre’s trial against Prince Andrew here
The Duke’s current roles – including Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army – will be passed on to other members of the Royal Family, with details of the new arrangement yet to be announced. been announced.
It is understood that the decision regarding Andrew came after discussions between members of the Windsor family, suggesting that members of the royal family may have been involved in the decision.
His other military titles include Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Lossiemouth; Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Irish Regiment; Colonel-in-Chief of the Small Arms School Corps; Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm; Royal Colonel of the Royal Highland Fusiliers; Deputy Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own); and Royal Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Virginia Giuffre is suing Andrew in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
She claims she was trafficked by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 and a minor under US law. Andrew denies all the allegations.
The judge’s decision to allow the trial to continue means Andrew could be forced to give evidence at a trial in the United States, starting in September, if no settlement is reached.
Ms Giuffre was pictured with Andrew and his friend Ghislaine Maxwell during the time the alleged sex took place.
Lawyers for Maxwell, who was convicted last month of luring vulnerable teenagers to Epstein’s various properties to sexually abuse them, have now said they are no longer fighting to hide information – including eight names mentioned in a civil case from 2015 – from the trial of Ms Giuffre. .
Meanwhile, Ms Giuffre’s solicitor David Boise has indicated his client is not interested in a ‘purely financial settlement’ with Andrew, suggesting the prince could be embroiled in a potentially embarrassing legal battle to clear his name.
“I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution justifies it and justifies the assertion that it made,” Mr Boise told the BBC, adding: “A purely financial settlement is not something that I think interests him.”
The lawyer also raised the possibility of calling other members of the royal family to give evidence, including Meghan Markle, Prince Charles and Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.
Earlier on Thursday, more than 150 Royal Navy, RAF and Army veterans signed an open letter calling on the Queen to strip Andrew of his honorary military duties.
The ex-serviceman group said they felt “upset and angry” that he remained in the armed forces and continued to hold military titles, positions and ranks, including that of Vice-Admiral of the Royal Navy.
“If it was another senior officer, it is inconceivable that he is still in office,” they said.
As head of the armed forces, honorary military appointments are within the Queen’s gift.
Responding to the decision to remove Andrew from the posts, one of the signatories to the open letter said: “I’m just glad he’s not associated with the military now.”
Lt Stuart Hunt, who served with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, said it was an ‘unsavory affair’ and claimed the Duke had brought the armed forces into disrepute.
The decision to strip Andrew of his titles is the second time in as many years that a senior royal has lost valuable military roles.
In January 2020, the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced they were stepping back from royal duties and were stripped of all patronages as well as the titles ‘His and Her Royal Highness’. .