A version of this story appeared in the January 14 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
It’s difficult to imagine a worse start to 2022 for Prince Andrew.
The Queen’s second son has been stripped of his cherished royal titles and will be the only one of his siblings no longer referred to as His (or Her) Royal Highness, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. The extraordinary statement came a day after a federal judge rejected a bid to have a civil suit against him in New York thrown out. Judge Lewis Kaplan effectively said Andrew does have a case to answer after being accused of sexual assault.
Now he’s facing the prospect of a very public trial later this year on allegations brought by Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was sexually trafficked to the royal by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, when she was underage. Andrew has previously denied all allegations and has said that he does not recall ever meeting the then-17-year-old, nor does he remember ever having the picture taken with her that has been featured repeatedly in media around the world.
A royal source told us that all Andrew’s titles – his military affiliations and other royal patronages – were returned to his mother effective immediately and will be redistributed to other members of the family.
We’ve been told the decision involved many of the Windsors, but the Queen will have had the final say, in close consultation with her direct heirs – Princes Charles and William.
To be clear: Andrew retains his own Duke of York title and he is still a member of the royal family, but, like the Sussexes, he will no longer represent the Queen in an official capacity.
The loss of the military titles in particular will be extremely painful for the prince, who, as a veteran of the Falklands War, took that part of the job most seriously.
In a press release on Thursday, announcing the Queen’s decision, it was made clear that Andrew will no longer have any royal public duties and will be defending himself as a private citizen in the allegations made by Giuffre.
The Duke of York does still have legal options he can pursue in the sexual assault lawsuit, but each comes with a degree of risk and no guarantee he’ll be able to mend his stained reputation. In a nutshell, the prince can opt to appeal the judge’s ruling, fight by going to trial, default or settle.
Several legal experts we’ve spoken to in the past 48 hours have suggested an out-of-court settlement may be the best approach. But Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, has indicated his client may prefer to have her day in court.
“I think it’s very important to Virginia Giuffre that this matter be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims. I don’t think she has a firm view as to exactly what a solution should be,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “But I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution vindicates her and vindicates the claim she has made.”
A source close to Prince Andrew told CNN Thursday that he will “continue to defend himself” against the sexual abuse lawsuit.
“Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling. However, it was not a judgement on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s allegations,” the source said.
“This is a marathon not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims,” the source added.
Andrew’s permanent removal from royal duties will surely have been a tough call for the matriarch, but one she clearly felt was needed in her capacity as head of the institution. The message here is this: The case in New York is simply too damaging to the family and the reputation of the monarchy – so he had to go.
With no official duties to perform, he will no longer receive public funds but will be free as a private citizen to take paid work in the private sector or source money through other private means to fund his very expensive legal effort. That would have been seen as a conflict of interest while he was an HRH.
The sovereign herself has faced some criticism for not acting fast enough as the scandal began to engulf Andrew back in 2019, following his car crash interview with the BBC over his relationship with Epstein. Many at the time felt he lacked empathy for the disgraced financier’s victims and that his titles should have been revoked then, rather than more than two years later.
Mark Stephens, a media lawyer with the London-based firm Howard Kennedy, believes the family and public were “prepared to give him some latitude to defend himself on the grounds that you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
The prince’s attorneys had argued that Giuffre’s lawsuit violated the terms of her 2009 settlement agreement with Epstein in Florida, in which she agreed to a “general release” of claims against Epstein and others. That settlement, released to the public recently, shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault. The prince’s name does not explicitly appear as a party.
However, Stephens continued, “When he sought to say, with one side of his mouth, ‘I never met this woman’ and with the other, ‘Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile, settled my case for me or any case for me,’ I think that that was too much for the British public to stomach, and that was when the public, I think, decisively moved against Andrew and anyone that was seen to support him.”
“The criticism of the Queen and her tacit support for her son has really only occurred since Brettler (the duke’s lawyer) made that argument to Judge Kaplan, and it sounded more loudly since the results of that argument have come down,” he added.
The question now is: Will the duke’s permanent exile be enough reputational damage control in the eyes of the public? Legal experts say the Queen has responded authoritatively, acting promptly instead of waiting for any verdict should the case reach the trial stage. She only retains the crown by virtue of parliamentary support and that, in turn, relies on public support.
Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at international law firm Ince, called the removal of military titles and royal patronages, combined with no longer being able to use the HRH style in an official capacity, a “significant development.”
He said it was “probably enough” to quell further criticism of inaction from the public, adding “it certainly appears to have brought the Duke of York’s public life as a royal to an end for the foreseeable future.”
Stephens, too, believes the palace moved quickly and decisively. “Essentially, he’s been put out to pasture, and he’s been reduced in status to the same status as Prince Harry,” he said, adding: “The handing back of his titles and honorifics makes it clear that he has no part in the future of the public civic life of this country.”
Most notably that means Andrew won’t have a front seat at the upcoming jubilee celebrations to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. He will be there for group photos but without the prime position assumed by an HRH.
Andrew will now be hoping the public are able to compartmentalize the lawsuit and allow 2022 to be defined as a royal jubilee year instead of a scandalized one. That’s clearly the hope of the rest of the family.
DID YOU KNOW?
So, it’s been announced that Prince Andrew will stop using the “HRH” style in any official capacity. Let’s break down what it all means.
The letters stand for His or Her Royal Highness, a style used to denote senior members of the royal family.
Since the early 18th century, it’s been customary for the title to be issued to sons and grandsons (and later, daughters and granddaughters) of the monarch.
It is bestowed upon royal members at the discretion of the monarch at the time, but was used liberally until World War I.
Then, in 1917, George V restricted how many minor royals were getting the title – at a time when there was public suspicion about the German origins of the House of Windsor, speedily renamed that year from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Queen Elizabeth II has loosened those guidelines, giving HRH status to a number of senior royals.
Today, children and grandchildren of the monarch traditionally get the HRH title – though it was historically withheld from granddaughters. The title doesn’t stretch to all the minor royals, but does include family members like the Queen’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent, who is far down the line of succession.
Not everyone has accepted the offer of an HRH. Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter, declined the title for her own children, Peter and Zara. The move has allowed them to carve out relatively normal lives away from significant public scrutiny.
After her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana had her HRH taken away. Instead, she was given the courtesy title of “Diana, Princess of Wales.” Similarly, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was also stripped of her HRH following her divorce from Prince Andrew.
Most recently, the Sussexes gave up their HRH titles after announcing they would step back from the royal family and relocating to the United States.
(With reporting by CNN’s Rob Picheta)
Palace reveals how Queen’s 70th year on the throne will be celebrated.
A holiday weekend, a special “platinum pudding,” and a pageant of flags. June is shaping up to be a fun and flamboyant celebration of Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
We’ve mentioned before that to mark the unprecedented anniversary, a number of events will take place throughout the UK over the year – culminating in a four-day national holiday weekend from Thursday, June 2 until Sunday, June 5, known as the Jubilee Weekend.
One of the initiatives is the “Platinum Pudding” contest – a nationwide baking competition seeking out a new dessert dedicated to the Queen (Think “The Great British Baking Show” – but bigger!) UK residents aged eight and over are eligible to create a recipe, and finalists will be judged by a panel including famed baker Mary Berry, renowned chef and “Masterchef UK” judge Monica Galetti and Buckingham Palace head chef Mark Flanagan. The winning recipe will be made available to the public ahead of the long weekend.
The Trooping the Colour parade will return to kick off things off. But we’ll also have beacons lit across the nation, Buckingham Palace’s music concert and street parties. It all culminates with a pageant that will include 5,000 personnel, performers, key workers and volunteers from the UK and the Commonwealth.
This pageant will involve a “River of Hope” section, featuring 200 silk flags that will process down The Mall – the road in London that leads to Buckingham Palace – like a river. Schoolchildren are invited to create a picture of their hopes and aspirations for the planet over the next 70 years as the artwork for the flags. Get the full story here.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING
Downing Street apologizes to the Queen.
Downing Street officials have apologized to Buckingham Palace following a report in The Telegraph newspaper that alleged that two parties were held there on April 16 last year – the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy official spokesman told journalists on Friday: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning, and Number 10 has apologised to the palace.” Under England’s coronavirus restrictions, social gatherings indoors were limited at this time. The very next day, the nation watched as the Queen sat alone in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. The photograph of the solitary grieving monarch elicited enormous sympathy from the public, both at home and abroad.
Prince Charles says painting ‘refreshes the soul.’
At the largest exhibition of his watercolors to date, painting enthusiast Prince Charles has described the restorative benefits of art, saying it “transports me to another dimension,” adding that his hobby “refreshes parts of the soul which other activities can’t reach.” A new show brings together nearly 80 of the prince’s landscape paintings. Like Queen Victoria, the prince is a “keen watercolorist” who “paints whenever his schedule allows,” according to his official website. He regularly depicts the royal family’s estates, including Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, and has also produced watercolors in Turkey, Nepal and the Swiss Alps. Read more.