No longer a royal. Buckingham Palace has revealed Queen Elizabeth’s Prince Andrew sexual assault lawsuit response for the first time. With approval from Her Majesty herself, the Duke of York has officially been stripped of his royal titles as he awaits potential trial in the United States amid his ongoing sexual abuse lawsuit.
The palace released a statement announcing the decision on January 13, 2022. “With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen,” the announcement read. According to the BBC, this move by the Queen means that Andrew will also stop being addressed as “His Royal Highness” in an official capacity.
Prince Andrew has faced mounting scrutiny in recent years due to his relationship with convicted sex traffickers, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a victim of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, claims she was sexually assaulted multiple times by Prince Andrew at the age of 17 in London and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein, who died in prison in August 2019. Two years after Epstein’s death, Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Andrew in the state of New York.
Following her filing in August 2021, Prince Andrew’s lawyers asked a judge to throw out the case. The Duke of York’s legal team claimed that the lawsuit had no bearing given a settlement Giuffre reached with Epstein in 2009 before his death. But the judge dismissed the request. “Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous,’” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his ruling on January 12, 2022. “It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse.”
The Duke of York previously announced his plan to step back from public duties in 2019, shortly after addressing his relationship with Epstein and Giuffre’s allegations in an interview with the BBC. “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my 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,” Andrew said in a statement at the time. “Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
The disgraced duke added at the time, “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”