Prince Andrew has renounced his military titles and patronages, returning them to Queen Elizabeth ahead of his upcoming lawsuit connected to his relationship with disgraced late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
A press release from the Palace on Friday morning read: “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.”
A royal source said Andrew would no longer use the title ‘His Royal Highness’ in any official capacity and his other roles would be distributed among other members of the Royal family. They would not return to Prince Andrew.
More than 150 veterans signed an open letter calling for Queen Elizabeth to strip her son Prince Andrew of his military titles, the campaign group Republic said on Thursday.
A day after Andrew’s lawyers failed to persuade a U.S. judge to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s civil lawsuit against him which accuses the royal of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager, the anti-monarchy group released the letter from veterans angry that he still held honorary military roles.
Their letter to the 95-year-old monarch called for her to take immediate action because Andrew, the Duke of York, had been “uncooperative and less than truthful” about his relationship with Epstein, and had brought the armed services he represented into disrepute.
“We are particularly upset and angry that Prince Andrew remains a member of the armed forces and continues to hold military titles, positions and ranks, including that of Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy,” the letter said.
“We are therefore asking that you take immediate steps to strip Prince Andrew of all his military ranks and titles and, if necessary, that he be dishonourably discharged.”
Andrew held three Colonel-in-chief titles for three Canadian regiments – The Princess Louise Fusiliers in Halfiax, The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada in Cambridge, and Queen’s York Rangers in Toronto. All of those titles have been stripped, as well.
In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre, 38, could pursue claims that Andrew battered her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while Epstein was trafficking her.
The 61-year-old prince, the queen’s second son, has denied Giuffre’s accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at a London home of former Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her at two Epstein properties.
The judge’s decision means Andrew could be forced to give evidence at a trial which could begin between September and December 2022 if no settlement were reached.
His legal team said on Thursday they would not be commenting on the development.
The prince was forced to step down from public duties in 2019 because of his connections to Epstein and in the wake of a disastrous BBC TV interview which he had hoped would clear his name, but instead led to ridicule and further questions.
“Regardless of the result of Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew, his position in Britain’s armed forces is now untenable,” the veterans’ letter said.
Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday it would not comment on an ongoing legal matter.
– With files from Global News’ Michelle Butterfield