Prince Andrew symbolically stripped of symbolic titles

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Fired by Mummy National Memorial via Wikimedia Commons

Cursed family on cursed spiral

For the last several months, the British monarchy and royal family have been in the news for not the best of reasons. First, there was the much-publicized parting of ways between Prince Harry and the family, ostensibly in response to cruel and racist treatment of his wife, Meghan Markle. In more recent times, especially in the wake of Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction for child sex trafficking, there was the shadow of possible legal consequences for Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second – and rumoured to be favourite – son.

To provide background, Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, filed a civil lawsuit in August 2021 against Andrew, who she accused of coercing her into sexual encounters on three separate occasions in 2001 when she was 17. Andrew initially denied all allegations, and also claimed he had no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre, although a picture of Andrew with his arm around Guiffre’s waist has become infamous. Lawyers from both sides have filed requests that individuals be summoned to testify.

Late last year, it was revealed that Giuffre had agreed on a civil settlement with Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 and was paid $500,000. Concern was expressed that the language of this settlement may prevent her from suing Andrew, and potentially shields anyone other than Epstein from lawsuits. Andrew himself claimed that this settlement protects him from any liability.

Giuffre in her 2009 lawsuit alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Epstein, and was also required to be sexually exploited by his friends, including royalty, politicians, academicians, and others. Andrew’s lawyers have argued in the past that he falls under the category of royalty, and is thus immune to any lawsuits by Giuffre. On January 12, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed Andrew’s efforts to have the lawsuit turned down, saying that it was premature to decide whether the 2009 settlement with Epstein shields Andrew. Judge Kaplan also said the case remains on track for trial sometime later in 2022, unless a settlement is reached before that date. In his written decision, Kaplan asserts that the language of the 2009 settlement is ambiguous, and that there are multiple reasonable interpretations of the language regarding the possible immunity from further litigation for third parties.

Speculations were being made as to whether this move by Judge Kaplan makes it more likely that Andrew will seek an out of court settlement. Sarah Krissoff, former federal prosecutor, feels it unlikely that Andrew would want every detailed allegation to come under public scrutiny, and that it makes the most rational sense to begin a discussion about resolving the case.

Meanwhile, there have been significant developments regarding Prince Andrew. On January 13, the Royal Family announced that it is stripping Andrew of all his military titles and royal patronages, and that he will no longer have use of the title His Royal Highness. Earlier, in 2019, the now former Duke of York was asked to step down from public duties because of his connections to Jeffrey Epstein and a disastrous BBC interview where it was felt that Andrew showed a lack of empathy for the victims. The prince had agreed to do the interview hoping to clear the air regarding his links to Epstein, but it only sparked the controversy and led to further questions. Around this time, the Royal Family also began to gradually distance themselves from the prince.

This recent move means that Andrew loses all his royal connections. A statement from the Buckingham palace mentioned that all his military affiliations and royal patronages now return to the Queen, and going forward Andrew is defending himself in his lawsuit as a public citizen rather than a member of the monarchy. Over the next several months, these military affiliations and royal titles are likely to be redistributed to other members of the family. As mentioned, this decision came less than 48 hours after Judge Kaplan decided that Giuffre has a right to seek litigation against Andrew, and the latter is not protected by the language of any earlier settlements.

A source close to Andrew said they are not surprised by Judge Kaplan’s ruling, but that this does mean that Giuffre’s allegations are being assigned any merit, and Andrew’s legal team will continue to defend him against these claims over a substantially long term if need be.

The general mood of the media, in response to this recent development, is that the issue at hand now is the protection of the Royal Family’s reputation around the world. A royal source said that this decision came following extensive discussions within the family. Earlier, more than 15 military veterans had signed a petition addressed to the Queen, calling on her to strip Andrew of his military titles and dishonorably discharge him if necessary. The petition claimed that Andrew has been “less than truthful” about his relationship with Epstein and has brought disrepute to the armed services he represented in his capacity as a royal.

On January 20 there were further developments regarding Andrew. His official Duke of York Twitter account has now been deleted, and while he continues to have an official Instagram account, it has now been moved to private from public. The Buckingham Palace official website has also been updated to reflect recent changes, with mentions of his public work and service to the monarchy rephrased in the past tense.

Some of Andrew’s royal patronages and military affiliations were based in Canada, such as Colonel-in-Chief for The Queen’s York Rangers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, and The Princess Louise Fusiliers. In his capacity as Duke of York, Andrew also held positions with The Royal Alberta United Services Institute, The Robert T. Jones Scholarship Foundation, The Canadian International Air Show, The York Club, The Royal Colwood Golf Club, and the Maple Bay Yacht Club. All of these affiliations are now revoked and reside with the Queen.

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