Prince Andrew stripped of military titles and gives up HRH style

Member of British royal family faces a civil court showdown in the US

Britain's Prince Andrew will face a civil lawsuit in the US after his legal team failed to dismiss sex abuse claims brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. EPA

The Duke of York’s status as a member of the British royal family is in tatters after Queen Elizabeth II stripped him of his honorary military roles and he gave up his HRH style in a dramatic fallout from his civil case in the US.

The move is a humiliation for Andrew and comes after the lawsuit against him took a major step forward on Wednesday when a judge threw out his motion to dismiss the sexual assault case and ruled it can go to trial.

Andrew, who was born an HRH, will not use it any official capacity, a royal source said. The duke has also been stripped of his remaining royal patronages.

The move represents Andrew's complete removal from official royal life, and an attempt to distance the monarchy from the once second in line to the throne.

More than 150 veterans had joined forces to express their outrage, writing to Elizabeth to demand Andrew's removal from the honorary military positions.

Accusing him of bringing the services he is associated with into disrepute, the 152 former members of the Royal Navy, RAF and Army said that “were this any other senior military officer, it is inconceivable that he would still be in post”.

Royal author Penny Junor questioned whether the queen should have insisted the titles and patronages be returned sooner.

“I think it was a huge embarrassment that retired serving military personnel were demanding that titles be removed," Junor said.

“That just becomes embarrassing and it becomes damaging to the queen because the queen is then seen as protecting her son.”

“I don’t know if the queen was too slow to take them back or whether it lies with Andrew, who was too slow to offer them back.

“But either way I think actually a bit of criticism has to fall on the queen here, because if Andrew was not offering them up, she or her advisers should have seen that this was going to cause a problem and should have insisted that she take them back.”

A royal source said the issue had been widely discussed with the royal family, making it likely that the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge were involved in crisis talks over the matter.

“With the queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the queen," Buckingham Palace said on Thursday.

“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

It is understood the decision was made by mutual agreement between the queen and her son, but the ultimate decision would have fallen to the monarch and been a difficult one.

As a former Royal Navy officer who served in the Falklands War, the loss of his association with the military units and regiments, the most prestigious being Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, will be keenly felt by Andrew.

The source said the military posts would be redistributed to other members of the royal family.

The queen is head of the armed forces and honorary military appointments are in her gift.

The Palace said previously that the duke’s military appointments were in abeyance after he stepped down from public duties in 2019 after his disastrous Newsnight interview.

But until now he retained the roles, which left the eight British regiments in limbo more than two years on.

Virginia Giuffre is suing the duke in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

Ms Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s acquaintance Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the duke when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

The duke has strenuously denied the allegations.

Ms Giuffre wants to be "vindicated" by the legal process and is not motivated by reaching a "purely financial settlement", her lawyer has said.

One of the few options open to Andrew is to try and reach an out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre after a US judge ruled her allegation of sexual assault against him can be heard at a civil trial.

But the suggestion by David Boies, Ms Giuffre's attorney, that money alone would not satisfy his client might indicate she may want her day in court or some admission from the duke or acknowledgement of her position.

The lawyer declined to rule out the prospect of his client agreeing a settlement but said there was "no suggestion of settlement discussions at this point".

A source close to Andrew said he would “continue to defend himself” against Ms Giuffre’s allegations after the judge’s decision to dismiss his legal team’s attempt to have the case thrown out.

“Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling," the source said.

“However, it was not a judgment on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s allegations. “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the duke will continue to defend himself against these claims.”

Andrew’s other honorary military titles were: Honorary air commodore of RAF Lossiemouth; Colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment; Colonel-in-chief of the Small Arms School Corps; Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm; Royal Colonel of the Royal Highland Fusiliers; Deputy Colonel-in-chief of The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own); and Royal Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Updated: January 14th 2022, 6:07 AM