Prince Andrew Will Still Receive a Major Royal Honor Despite Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

Prince Andrew's birthday will still be marked by bell-ringing at Westminster Abbey next February, despite Andrew stepping down from public duties.

ascot, united kingdom july 27 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time prince andrew, duke of york attends the qipco king george weekend at ascot racecourse on july 27, 2019 in ascot, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

The bells at London's Westminster Abbey will still ring for Prince Andrew's birthday on February 19, 2021, despite Andrew's November announcement that he would "step back" from his royal duties following public outcry over his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew withdrew from the public eye after participating in a heavily criticized BBC interview (opens in new tab), in which he denied Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre's allegations that she was forced to have sex with him, but said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein.

As People reports (opens in new tab), the bells at Westminster Abbey ring for the birthdays of 11 other royals: the Queen and Prince Philip; Princes Charles and Edward; Charles' wife Camilla Parker Bowles; Kate Middleton and Prince William; and Kate and William's children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis (Meghan Markle and Prince Harry did not receive the bell ringing honor, even before they stepped down as senior royals.)

Government buildings also fly the Union Jack on senior royals' birthdays—but Andrew did not receive this honor last February, with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announcing in a statement, "Following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, there is no longer a requirement for UK government buildings to fly the Union flag on Wednesday February 19."

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Prince Andrew's relationship with Jeffrey Epstein came under renewed scrutiny in September 2019, after Virginia Roberts Giuffre said she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17. Andrew said he "emphatically denied" the allegation. In a November BBC interview widely considered disastrous for the royal, he claimed he had "no recollection" of meeting Giuffre, provoking outcry when he said he didn't regret his friendship with Epstein because of "useful" opportunities it provided him.

After the interview, Andrew announced that he would "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future," stating that his "former association with Jeffrey Epstein [had] become a major disruption to [his] family’s work."


london, england august 04 prince andrew, duke of york looks on during day one of the 16th iaaf world athletics championships london 2017 at the london stadium on august 4, 2017 in london, united kingdom photo by richard heathcotegetty images

(Image credit: Richard Heathcote)

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.