Embattled Prince Andrew loses royal and military ties

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LONDON — Prince Andrew had his military ties and royal patronages terminated on Thursday and will no longer be known as “His Royal Highness”, Buckingham Palace has said, as Queen Elizabeth’s son fights a US lawsuit in which he is accused of sexual abuse.

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Andrew, 61, the Duke of York, was forced to resign from public office in 2019 over his links to US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and after a disastrous BBC interview, which the prince hoped she would clear her name.

Thursday’s move by the Royal Family means he will now lose all of his royal connections.

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“With the Queen’s approval and consent, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

“The Duke of York will continue to hold no public office and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

On Wednesday, Andrew’s lawyers failed to convince a US judge to dismiss a civil suit in which Virginia Giuffre accuses him of sexually abusing her as a teenager.

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US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre, 38, could pursue allegations that Andrew beat her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while Epstein – a financier who killed himself in prison in August 2019 awaiting trial for sex trafficking – trafficked her.

The Prince, the Queen’s second son, 95, has denied Giuffre’s accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at a London home of the former business partner. ‘Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her at two Epstein properties.

The judge’s decision means Andrew could be forced to give evidence in a trial which could start between September and December 2022 if no settlement is reached.

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“Given the firmness with which Judge Kaplan took our arguments, we are not surprised by the decision,” said a source close to Andrew.

“However, this 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 against these claims.

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Andrew’s links to Epstein had led to a series of damaging media reports, leading the prince to decide to do a television interview in November 2019 which he hoped would resolve the issue.

It instead led to ridicule and further questioning, and as the controversy grew, Buckingham Palace had increasingly distanced itself from the prince, refusing to comment and referring all questions to its lawyers.

The US conviction last month of her friend Ghislaine Maxwell on sex trafficking and other charges of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse, as well as her own case, had left her reputation in the British media in tatters.

A royal source said the decision on Andrew came after extensive discussions between the Windsors and that his military affiliations and patronage would be redistributed to other family members.

Earlier, an open letter to the Queen, signed by more than 150 veterans calling for Andrew to also have his military titles stripped and ‘if necessary dishonourably removed’, was published by the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic.

They called on Elizabeth to take immediate action because her son had been ‘uncooperative and less than truthful’ about his relationship with Epstein, and brought discredit to the armed forces he represented.

“Regardless of the outcome of Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew, her position in the British Armed Forces is now untenable,” the veterans’ letter read.

The scandal surrounding Andrew follows the damage caused after the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan quit their royal duties to pursue new careers in Los Angeles, later accusing the royal household of racism.

They too were stripped of all their patronages, the titles “His and Her Royal Highness”, and Harry also lost his valuable military roles.

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