LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to deprive Prince Andrew of his military titles and protections was a brutal and humiliating exercise in damage control, royal experts said Friday.
The move to evict Andrew, the 95-year-old queen’s second son, came the day after a U.S. judge allowed a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse. The Duke of York will fight the case “as a private citizen,” Buckingham Palace said in an abrupt statement announcing the demotion.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
“It’s pretty brutal in many ways – the queen really puts her foot down and says it can not continue,” said David McClure, a royal commentator and author. “It has become enormously detrimental to the reputation of the entire monarchy, not just Andrew, so the Queen really had to make a decision.”
It comes after two hard years for the monarch who lost her husband, Prince Philip, and then Prince Harry leaves the family for a new life in the United States with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, amid accusations of racism, which the family has denied on it most powerful.
Andrew will no longer be able to use “His Royal Highness” in any capacity, a royal source told NBC News. He will relinquish a dozen military titles and will no longer be the patron of more than 100 organizations and clubs – even though many had already severed ties with him. He retains his rank as Vice Admiral and remains ninth in line to the British throne.
Andrew served in Britain’s Royal Navy and flew on missions in the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982. He comes from a large number of British royals who have served in the armed forces and have close ties to the military.
A few hours before the palace declaration on Thursday, the antimony market’s campaign group Republic issued a letter signed by about 150 veterans urging the queen to “take immediate steps to deprive Prince Andrew of all his military ranks.”
“We understand that he is your son,” the letter said, but “these steps could have been taken at any time in the last eleven years. Do not leave it any longer.”
She did not, as Andrews’ failed attempt to dismiss the civil case raised the prospect of a lengthy legal process.
Virginia Giuffre, now 38, claims that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell traded her and forced her to have sex with Andrew, now 61, in the 1990s. He has repeatedly denied the allegations and that he ever met Giuffre, who was 17 at the time.
“It did not happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you that it never happened,” he told the BBC in 2019. “I have no memory of ever having met this lady, no one at all.”
If the case is not decided out of court or otherwise dismissed, Andrew may be forced to testify at a high-profile trial starting in the fall or winter.
“This is now about protecting the reputation of the royal family,” said BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell. “This is likely to do, and already does, significant damage to reputation – it is being followed around the world.”
NBC News has contacted Buckingham Palace and Andrews representatives for a comment.
A source close to Andrew said earlier this week: “This is a marathon, not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these allegations.”
As the queen’s second son, who would hardly ever see the throne, Andrew’s active social life led the British tabloid press to call him “the party prince”.
But Giuffre’s claims and Andrew’s relationship with Epstein and Maxwell have become one of the most toxic royal crises in decades.
The prince gave an interview to the BBC in November 2019, which he hoped would clear his name, but was generally seen as a car accident that invited further ridicule. Perhaps most notably, Andrew claimed that Giuffre’s recollection of sweating at a nightclub was untrue because an “adrenaline overdose” during the Falklands War meant he had lost the ability to sweat.
In the ensuing furore, Andrew announced that he was resigning from his public duties “for the foreseeable future.” And Buckingham Palace seemed to distance itself from him, refusing to give statements on his behalf, referring journalists to his own lawyers for comment.
It was a rocky time for the monarchy elsewhere, with Harry and Meghan also stepping away from the “firm” in early 2020 after complaining about their treatment at the hands of the press and other royals themselves. They were also deprived of their patronage and titles.
Several royal commentators, as well as Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, have said that Andrew was always the queen’s favorite son. He will forever be associated with the British Crown, but the Queen has now been shown to distance herself from him.
“The Queen says enough is enough – a firm decision had to be made,” McClure said. “It was inevitable. The question is just whether it should have come earlier.”
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