Queen Elizabeth has decided to strip Prince Andrew of all of the royal offices and honorary military titles to have him face charges as a private citizen in the saga of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal in New York City.
The monarch's decision came one day after the US courts decided not to dismiss the civil case against Andrew filed by Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexual misconduct. The 38-year-old woman alleges that New York tycoon Epstein, who took his life in jail where he was awaiting trial in 2019, forced her to have sex with his wealthy and powerful partners, including the Duke of York.
Giuffre sued the British royal, who will turn 62 next month, accusing him of sexually abusing her three times in 2001, when he was introduced to and offered at 17 by Epstein and his fiancée Ghislaine Maxwell.
A statement from Buckingham Palace regarding The Duke of York:
With The Queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen.
The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.
With this measure, the Duke of York will no longer use his His Royal Highness style in any official position.
Although Prince Andres always denied the accusations, his lawyers asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to dismiss the civil case after it became known that the woman had signed a secret agreement with Epstein that protects the prince and others from being sued by Giuffre. The Duke of York's defense had argued that the prince is protected by the 2009 agreement between Epstein and Giuffre in which the woman waived her right to sue other potential defendants in exchange for $ 500,000.
According to Giuffre's lawyers, however, the Queen's son is not covered by that settlement because he is not mentioned in it and because she did not even know about it in 2009.
In the magistrate's view, it is an agreement full of drafting problems and ambiguity, especially on the meaning of the potential defendants, as evidenced by the fact that the parties have articulated at least two reasonable interpretations of their decisive language.
For this reason, the request for dismissal must be rejected in all its extremes, as he concludes in his 43-page rationale.
With Thursday's decision, Andrew has been completely removed from official royal life. The decision to take back the duke’s military affiliations and royal patronages had been widely discussed among senior members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge.
More than 150 military veterans had written to the Queen to ask her to strip Andrew of his honorary military roles amid what they described as their “upset and anger,” saying it was “untenable” for the Duke of York to retain his position.
As a former Royal Navy officer who served in the 1982 Falklands War, the loss of his association with the military units and regiments, the most prestigious being colonel of the Grenadier Guards, will be keenly felt by Andrew. The palace had said previously that the duke’s military appointments were in abeyance after he stepped down from public duties in 2019.
His other British honorary military titles were: 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.
Andrew was due to be promoted to admiral on his 60th birthday in 2020, but asked to defer this after stepping down from public duties. While his military affiliations – which are in the gift of the Queen – are returned, it is understood Andrew, as a former member of the armed services, will retain his current military rank of vice admiral.