Stripped of His Royal & Military Titles, Prince Andrew Now Has Nowhere To Hide
Andrew has been sued by Virginia Giuffre, alleging he sexually assaulted her 20 years ago when she was a minor.
The Quint DAILY
For impactful stories you just can’t miss
In the latest development in the Prince Andrew sexual assault case, the Duke of York has been stripped of his military titles and royal patronages.
A statement by the Buckingham Palace said that the titles and patronages have been returned to the Queen, who is Prince Andrew's mother.
Prince Andrew will not use 'His Royal Highness' in an official capacity anymore, and his royal duties will be reallocated to the other members of the Royal Family.
"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," statement by the royal family stated.
The Duke of York had been sued by Virginia Giuffre for unspecified damages in August 2021, alleging that she had been sexually assaulted by him 20 years ago, when she was 17 – a minor under the United States (US) law.
The lawsuit was filed by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, as reported by Reuters.
Giuffre's lawsuit also mentioned that the late Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, had lent her out for sexual encounters with his wealthy associates, and that the Duke was one of his clients.
Andrew has vehemently rejected these accusations.
Prince Andrew's Military Career
With a 22-year-long career in the Royal Navy and a stint as a chopper pilot during the 1982 Falklands War between the (victorious) United Kingdom and Argentina, some of the military titles that Andrew has lost due to the scandal are:
Colonel of the Grenadier Guards
Royal colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland
Colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment
Norman Baker, a former government minister belonging to the Liberal Democrats and a commentator on matters relating to the royal family said that "it is absolutely right that Andrew has now returned his military titles to the Queen. It had become an embarrassment all round, not least for the military, for him to continue for example to be colonel-in-chief of the Grenadier Guards."
Andrew is also going to be dismissed from several overseas honorary roles like the colonel-in-chief of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and the colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment, the BBC reported.
In her court documents, Giuffre has alleged to be a victim of sex trafficking and sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein since she was in mid-teens.
One of the aspects of her traumatic experiences was being lent to Epstein's powerful contacts for sexual encounters.
One of these men, she said, was Prince Andrew.
Giuffre claims to have been sexually assaulted by the Duke on three separate occasions when she was below the age of 18.
The first instance was in 2001 in London, when she was 17.
The second and third encounters were in Epstein's mansion and private island in New York and the US Virgin Islands respectively.
Giuffre has also asserted that the Duke knew she was a victim of sex-trafficking, and that he also knew that she was 17 years old and therefore, due to being a minor, not within the ambit of the US law to have sex with Andrew.
Andrew rejected all these claims and insisted during a 2019 BBC interview that he had never met Giuffre, and that he had no memory of any London encounter, or any of those that followed it.
He even went so to say that on the date that Giuffre alleges the sexual encounter happened, he was with his children, taking one of his daughters to a party in Pizza Express.
Andrew, however, has been unable to explain a photo of him with Virginia Giuffre, his arm wrapped around her waist, with Epstein's well-known associate Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind them.
Andrew's Defence and the Judge's Ruling
The Duke's legal team's whole defence rested on a confidential settlement between convicted Epstein and Giuffre, revealed on 3 January 2022, that the team believed would protect him from legal action.
In that settlement, Giuffre, Andrew's lawyers argued, had agreed to not pursue legal action against other "potential defendants," and in this case, Andrew is a "potential defendant."
His lawyers also argue that the Giuffre's allegations were too vague to punish Andrew under the New York law.
Based on these grounds, Prince Andrew wanted a court to dismiss the sexual assault lawsuit filed against him.
Judge Kaplan of the US District Court of Southern District of New York hastily dismissed these arguments.
With respect to the confidential settlement, Judge Kaplan said that the law bars him from speculating which people Epstein and Giuffre meant to be referring to in their agreement, and that the term "potential defendants" could literally refer to any human being on the planet.
On the vagueness aspect of the lawsuit, the judge ruled that "Ms Giuffre's complaint is neither unintelligible, nor vague nor ambiguous, it alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations."
Arguing that the only thing Giuffre had to do at this stage was to show that her complaint was plausible, stating that "the allegation that [Ms Giuffre] was forced to sit on [Prince Andrew's] lap while he touched her is sufficient to state a battery claim under New York law, regardless of which part of her body the defendant ultimately is alleged to have touched."
The judge, therefore, refused to dismiss the lawsuit against Andrew.
The trial will go forward.
Giuffre tweeted in response to the ruling that she was "pleased with Judge Kaplan’s ruling yesterday that allows my case against Prince Andrew to go forward. I’m glad I will have the chance to continue to expose the truth & I am deeply grateful to my extraordinary legal team."
She further added that she does not "walk this path alone, but alongside countless other survivors of sexual abuse & trafficking."
Meanwhile, the royal family is in turmoil.
An anonymous source told The Guardian that they do not know "what the richter scale goes up to but this is a big earthquake."
"This feels to me like a straightforward ejection or excommunication. This is the most serious step they could have taken."
An author on royal matters, David McClure also said that while "some damage has already been done," "there is the possibility of more to come."
"Even if he is cleared in the court, his reputation is finished and he has done damage to the royal family because of his association with Epstein and Maxwell," McClure further said.
Whether the Duke of York will continue to get financial support from the royal family or his home in Windsor Castle are some of the questions that we will have answers to in the near future.
(With inputs from Reuters, The Guardian, and the BBC.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)
Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from news and world
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.