LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II has stripped Prince Andrew of all his honorary military titles and royal roles in charities and other civic groups, Buckingham Palace said Thursday, amid a growing furor over allegations he sexually abused a teenage girl supplied to him by financier Jeffrey Epstein.
More than 150 British navy and army veterans had written to the queen asking her to strip her second son of all his military ranks and titles after a U.S. judge said Wednesday a sex assault lawsuit against the prince could go ahead.
In a joint letter issued by the group Republic, they said they were “upset and angry” that Andrew “brought the services he is associated with into disrepute.”
The palace said in a brief statement that “with the queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the queen.”
Patronages refer to roles in charities, military and civic groups that the royals support.
“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen,” the statement added.
The queen is head of the armed forces and honorary military appointments are given by her.
Andrew stepped back from public duties in 2019, after a BBC interview about his friendship with Epstein drew widespread criticism. But he had retained his honorary titles, including Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy, until now.
A U.S. district judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a civil case against Andrew by an American woman, Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre sued the 61-year-old Andrew in August, saying she was coerced into sexual encounters with him in 2001, when she was 17, by Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre said she was sexually abused by Andrew at Maxwell’s London home, at Epstein’s New York mansion and his estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected an argument by Andrew’s lawyers that Giuffre’s lawsuit should be thrown out at an early stage because of an old legal settlement she had with Epstein, who she claims set up sexual encounters with the prince.
He stressed that he wasn’t ruling on the truth of the allegations.
Andrew’s lawyers have said that the royal never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre and that he “unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”
Palace officials have declined to comment on the “ongoing legal matter.”