Prince Andrew’s legal cases have been a black mark on the monarchy since 2019, when he gave an interview with Newsnight that was widely lauded as “disastrous” in response to the accusation by Virginia Giuffre that the Duke of York had sexual relations with her when she was underage. The Prince denies the allegations, and in the interview denied having ever met Giuffre. The incident revolved around Andrew’s alleged friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, and now that Epstein fixer Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty, eyes have turned back toward Andrew and his ongoing legal battle with Giuffre. Now, some are suggesting that Andrew may be stripped of his royal titles regardless of how the case turns out.
Prince Andrew has stepped down from public duties and has remained almost entirely out of the public eye, except for remarks he gave following the death of his father, Prince Philip. But that hasn’t stopped the public from reacting when news of the lawsuit drops. Last month, a woman angrily bashed on Prince Andrew’s car window as he made his way to Windsor for royal family holiday festivities. And shortly before that, the phrase #AbolishtheMonarchy trended on Twitter in response to news of the lawsuit.
But although he has been permanently stripped of royal responsibilities, Prince Andrew’s titles remain intact. And according to Express UK, removing them is a bit complicated. For one, there is the matter of his military titles, where he serves as colonel-in-chief of nine military regiments. Though Andrew could publicly give these up, and the publication says that the majority of “senior commanders now believe it is impossible for the Duke of York to continue in his role,” the Queen would have to remove them.
Many believe the court case’s outcome is irrelevant to whether Andrew should continue to hold a title. “
Some senior officers claim Andrew’s reputation is now so badly damaged by the sex abuse allegations and his friendship with Epstein and Maxwell that he could never again attend a military ceremony,” said the publication. A source added, “Even if Andrew is completely exonerated from any wrongdoing he is now regarded as toxic. It is expected he will do the decent thing and resign.”
As for removal of the Duke of York title, which the publication says is “extremely uncommon,” the move would only be possible with an act of Parliament, as the Queen cannot herself remove peerages.
But downgrading Prince Andrew in some way is considered a popular move. According to Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell and the Palace (opens in new tab), speaking with the site, “A thorough and critical look by Buckingham Palace into Prince Andrew's titles, including the HRH, is long overdue.” He continued, “It is a moot question whether this report has waited for too long to put sufficient distance between the prince's poor choice of friends and the palace's own inaction over troubling headlines of fifteen years and counting.” In other words, the damage is done and cutting Andrew off may be necessary to preserve the monarchy.
Cawthorne also pointed out that other royals were stripped of military titles for much less egregious reasons. For example, Prince Harry was forced to give up his military titles when he stepped away from royal duties and moved stateside with Meghan Markle. “Other senior royals have seen their royal paraphernalia curtailed under circumstances that both cause the monarch much less embarrassment and have less potential to careen into a constitutional crisis,” said the author.
No matter how the court case with Prince Andrew actually turns out, the bad press and questionable support by the rest of the royal family is likely to leave a stain on the monarchy’s reputation for many years. Some experts suggest that getting rid of Andrew’s titles may be the only way to save face.
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