His military titles have always been important to Britain’s Prince Andrew. On official occasions he often appeared in uniform, with many colorful medals adorning his chest. The palace has been keeping Queen Elizabeth II’s second son out of the public eye for a long time, but should he appear again in the foreseeable future, it will certainly not be in uniform. The Queen stripped him of all military ranks and royal patronage on Thursday.
The importance of this step cannot be overstated. In fact, the Queen has expelled her son, sixth in line to the throne. The reason for this is that Andrew is accused of sexual abuse in a New York court. On Wednesday, the court decided to deny Andrew’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Virginia Giuffre, now 38, accuses the 61-year-old prince of abusing her in 2001. Andrew denies that. Giuffre says he was caught by sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell. Epstein loaned Giuffre, who was 17 at the time, to Andrew so that he could abuse her.
So far, the royal family had always bricked. As recently as Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on ongoing proceedings. On Thursday, however, the palace published a message that was as short as it was cool: “With the approval and consent of the Queen, the military ranks and royal patronage of the Duke of York were returned to the Queen.” And, a very important point: Andrew will defend himself in the process as a private citizen. Not a word about him being considered innocent. No word of support.
Andrew actually earned most of his ranks through active military service. He was trained as a helicopter pilot and took part in the 1982 Falklands War. Politicians were at the time trying to get the prince to do other things, but the Queen insisted he remain on the war effort. By the end of his military career, Andrew had made it to the rank of frigate captain. For his 50th birthday, his mother gave him a gift: she promoted him to rear admiral, even though he was no longer in the military, which is why Andrew has liked to appear in admiral’s uniform ever since.
On Thursday, 150 British veterans sent an open letter asking the Queen to strip Andrew of his ranks. He did not live up to the standards of honorable conduct. It then only took a few hours until the Queen Andrews actually conceded the title.
From 2001 to 2011, Andrew traveled the world as the UK’s “International Trade and Investment Representative”. He was relieved of that post for overtly using it to favor a friend and for being friends with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He had met him through Ghislaine Maxwell, who, as the daughter of the former media mogul Robert Maxwell, belonged to British high society.
Epstein was arrested in June 2019 and was later found dead in his cell in a New York prison. Maxwell was recently convicted in New York for human trafficking, among other things. She faces a long prison sentence.
It is certain that both Andrew and the royal family are keen to avoid the prince appearing in court in New York. An out-of-court settlement is therefore likely. However, Virginia Giuffre’s attorney David Boies has just announced that his client is not just about money. It is also about her being rehabilitated. That could probably only be the case if the prince made an admission of guilt, which is considered impossible.