Queen Elizabeth has taken the extraordinary step of effectively stripping scandal-plagued Prince Andrew of his ‘His Royal Highness’ title, along with removing his military associations and royal patronages as he fights a civil sexual assault lawsuit.
“With the Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Thursday. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending the case as a private citizen.”
Although the statement did not specify it, Andrew will no longer use the HRH title, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast.
A source close to Andrew told The Daily Beast that the changes had been made with the agreement of Andrew, rather than being “imposed” from the top.
Prince Andrew is driven from his house near Windsor castle on Thursday.
The dramatic move came after a grim-faced Andrew was pictured being driven in the direction of Windsor Castle on Thursday, and represents a ruthless determination among the palace elite to insulate themselves from Andrew’s disintegrating reputation.
Buckingham Palace refused to say if Andrew had visited his mother personally to receive the news of his excommunication from royal life.
The queen, who has for several years resisted pressure to strip Andrew of his honorary military roles, acted the day after a New York judge threw out a desperate attempt by Andrew to have Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against him dismissed. Giuffre has accused Andrew of raping her three times when she was 17, while she was being sexually trafficked by Andrew’s friend Jeffrey Epstein.
The judge rejected an argument by Andrew that he was protected from legal jeopardy by the terms of a $500,000 settlement Giuffre made with Epstein.
David Boies, Giuffre’s lawyer, told the Daily Beast on Thursday, “The queen’s actions speak for themselves.”
The queen’s bombshell decision followed a public call by more than 150 military veterans who wrote to her on Thursday, in her role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, saying it was “untenable” for Andrew to retain his position.
“Were this any other senior military officer it is inconceivable that he would still be in post,” the letter, first reported by the Guardian, said.
Andrew, until today, still held the title of Colonel of the prestigious Grenadier Guards along with several other roles.
Those roles were formally described by Buckingham Palace as being “in abeyance,” however it was widely suggested that the queen had made it clear she wanted Andrew to remain colonel of the Grenadier Guards, a position her late husband held before him.
Officers in the Guards were still expected to drink to Andrew’s health in a “loyal toast” at the end of regimental dinners, something which reportedly made them appear uncomfortable, The London Times had reported.
“The fact that the Palace is now describing him as a private citizen… tells us he has well and truly been chucked under the royal bus.”
Royal author and former government minister Norman Baker told The Daily Beast that it was “absolutely right” for Andrew to return his military titles to the queen.
“It had become an embarrassment all round, not least for the military, for him to continue for example to be colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards,” he said. “The fact that the Palace is now describing him as a private citizen in respect of his court case tells us he has well and truly been chucked under the royal bus, yet the royal family cannot escape the immense damage that will increase as the American court case progresses. Can he now even stay as Duke of York, or having been marched up that hill by the Queen, will he be marched down again?”
A similar deal to remove the HRH title was agreed to with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle when they decided to exit public life, so that they weren’t seen to be “cashing in” on their royal titles.
Andrew’s unwillingness to voluntarily give up his honors and military roles has been seen by some as evidence of his refusal to accept that he will never again return to a prominent position in public life.