Queen strips Prince Andrew of royal ties as sexual abuse lawsuit threatens more palace pain

LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to strip Prince Andrew of his military titles and patronages was a brutal and humiliating damage control exercise, royal experts said Friday.

The move to evict Andrew, the 95-year-old queen’s second son, came a day after a judge in the United States allowed a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse. The Duke of York will challenge the case “as a citizen,” Buckingham Palace said in an abrupt statement announcing the demotion.

The bombshell dominated British front pages on Friday, even surpassing new revelations about an alleged lockdown-error party at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s home, with royal onlookers viewing the Queen’s decision as an attempt to further the saga’s ability to expand the palace. to embarrass, to reduce.

“It’s pretty brutal in many ways — the Queen is really stepping foot and saying this can’t go on,” said David McClure, a royal commentator and author. “It has become hugely damaging to the reputation of the entire monarchy, not just Andrew, so the Queen really had to make a decision.”

It comes after two tough years for the monarch, who lost her husband, Prince Philip, and saw Prince Harry leave the family for a new life in the United States with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, amid accusations of racism the family has committed. vehemently denied.

Andrew will no longer be able to use “His Royal Highness” in any capacity, a royal source told NBC News. He will give up a dozen military titles and will no longer be a patron of more than 100 organizations and clubs – although many had already cut ties with him. He retains his rank as Rear Admiral and remains ninth in line to the British throne.

Andrew served in the British Royal Navy and went on missions in the 1982 Falklands War between Britain and Argentina. He comes from a long line of British royals who served in the armed forces and forged close ties to the military.

Hours before the palace statement Thursday, the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic published a letter signed by some 150 veterans asking the Queen to “take immediate steps to strip Prince Andrew of all his military ranks”.

“We understand he is your son,” the letter continued, but “these steps could have been taken at any time in the past 11 years. Please don’t leave it any longer.”

She didn’t, with Andrew’s attempt to dismiss the civil case failed, raising the prospect of a lengthy legal process.

Prince Andrew, seen here with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in June 2019, is the monarch’s second son and ninth in line to the throne. Max Mumby / Getty Images file

Virginia Giuffre, now 38, alleges Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trafficked her and forced her to have sex with Andrew, now 61, in the 1990s. He has repeatedly denied the charges and that he ever met Giuffre, who was 17 at the time.

“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely tell you categorically it never happened,” he told the BBC in 2019. “I don’t remember ever meeting this lady, nothing at all.”

If the case is not settled out of court or otherwise dismissed, Andrew could be forced to testify at a high-profile trial that begins in the fall or winter.

“This is now about protecting the reputation of the royal family,” said BBC correspondent Nicholas Witchell. “This is likely to do significant reputational damage, and is already doing – it’s being followed around the world.”

NBC News has reached out to Buckingham Palace and Andrew’s representatives for comment.

A source close to Andrew said earlier this week: “This is a marathon, not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims.”

As the Queen’s second son, who would probably never see the throne, Andrew’s active social life led the British tabloid press to refer to him as “the Party Prince.”

But Giuffre’s accusations and Andrew’s relationship with Epstein and Maxwell have become one of the most toxic royal crises in decades.

The prince gave an interview to the BBC in November 2019 that he hoped would clear his name, but which was widely seen as a car accident that prompted further ridicule. Perhaps most notably, Andrew claimed that Giuffre’s memory of him sweating in a nightclub was untrue, as an “adrenaline overdose” during the Falklands War meant he could no longer perspire.

Prince Andrew says he can’t remember this photo showing Virginia Giuffre (then Roberts) with him and Ghislaine Maxwell at Maxwell’s London home.

In the ensuing fury, Andrew announced that he would be stepping down from his public duties “for the foreseeable future.” And Buckingham Palace seemed to distance themselves from him, refusing to make statements on his behalf and referring journalists to his own lawyers for comment.

It was a rough time for the monarchy elsewhere, with Harry and Meghan also stepping out of ‘the firm’ in early 2020 after complaining about their treatment by the press and fellow royalists themselves. They too were stripped of their patronages and titles.

Several royal commentators, as well as Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, have said that Andrew was always the Queen’s favorite son. He will forever be associated with the British Crown, but the Queen now seems to distance herself from him.

“The Queen says enough is enough — a firm decision had to be made,” McClure said. “It was inevitable. The only question is whether it should have come sooner.”

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