Prince Andrew returns military titles, royal patronages to Queen Elizabeth amid Epstein scandal


(LONDON) — Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has lost his military titles and royal patronages just one day after his attempt to have a lawsuit dismissed from alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre was denied.

Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that Andrew’s titles and patronages have been returned to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” the palace said in a statement. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Prince Andrew, the second youngest of Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip’s four children, served for 22 years in the Royal Navy.

Stripping him of his military titles is “hugely significant,” according to ABC News royal contributor Robert Jobson.

Andrew’s honorary military titles included Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army; 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; and Royal Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

“It’s clear to me there’s no way back from this for Andrew as a public figure,” Jobson said. “The reality is, as the queen is not only head of state but also of the armed forces, she will have taken note of the unrest amongst the military affiliated with the duke and acted appropriately.”

“The last sentence, referring to him as a private citizen in an official statement, is unheard of and shows that he has clearly been cut adrift by the royal family,” Jobson added.

The Duke of York will no longer use the style “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity, a royal source told ABC News.

Andrew’s military and patronage roles will be redistributed among members of the royal family, according to the source.

The last time Andrew, the father of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, appeared in a public capacity with the royal family was last April, when the family gathered in London for Prince Philip’s funeral.

In November 2019, Andrew stepped back from public duties, saying in a statement at the time that his, “former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support.”

The scrutiny over Andrew’s relationship with Epstein, a convicted sex offender, increased even more in 2020, when Epstein died in prison from an apparent suicide.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York rejected Prince Andrew’s claim that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein exempted him from civil litigation.

The settlement agreement releases from legal liability “other potential defendants” and attorneys for the Duke of York had argued that prevents her from suing him because he was a potential defendant in her earlier lawsuit.

The judge called the agreement “ambiguous” and lacked “clear and precise” drafting.

ABC News royal contributor Victoria Murphy said the ruling is likely what led the monarchy to establish more distance from Andrew.

“They are now going even further than they have gone previously in distancing themselves from him,” she said. “It sends the message they understand the latest ruling has escalated the reputational damage and they want to put every last bit of distance they can between him and the monarchy.”

Giuffre alleges Epstein trafficked her to Prince Andrew, who took advantage and sexually abused her when she was under 18.

Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegation.

In response to the judge’s ruling, a source close to Andrew told ABC News the duke “will continue to defend himself.”

“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.”

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson declined to comment on the ruling Wednesday, telling ABC News, “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”

Andrew’s U.S.-based legal team had previously signaled its intent to seek dismissal on jurisdictional grounds, arguing Giuffre cannot take advantage of the U.S. federal court system while she lives in Australia.

ABC News’ Zoe Magee, Aaron Katersky and James Hill contributed to this report.

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