LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Andrew has returned his military affiliations and royal patronage to Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday.
This comes a day after royal lawyers failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit alleging him of sexual abuse.
“With the consent and assent of the Queen, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronage have been returned to the Queen,” the statement said.
“The Duke of York will continue to refrain from public duties and is defending this case as a private individual,” it said.
As a result, Andrew will no longer use the “His Royal Highness” style in any official capacity, a royal source told NBC News.
Andrew served in the British Royal Navy and flew a number of missions in the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War, which was fought around the remote Falkland Islands.
The 73-day conflict, which claimed 904 lives, came after Argentina tried to retake the South American islands from the United Kingdom
Andrew remained on active duty after the end of the war, and while he spent most of his service in naval aviation, he also commanded a mine countermeasures warship. Promoted to Commander in 1999, he retired from active service two years later.
The king’s reputation has been tarnished in recent years by his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his confidant, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was found guilty of five sex trafficking charges in New York City last month.
Buckingham Palace made the announcement about Andrew’s title after a judge in the United States on Wednesday denied his motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed against him by Virginia Giuffre alleging that he sexually abused her when she was 17.
Giuffre, now 38, has claimed Epstein and Maxwell forced her to have sex with Andrew in the 1990s.
Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegation.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan for the Southern District of New York ruled that it was premature to review the prince’s efforts to challenge Giuffre’s allegations, even though he would be allowed to do so at a trial.
Andrew’s attorneys tried to block the lawsuit earlier this month, releasing details of a legal settlement in which she took $500,000 from the financier to avoid further legal action.
They previously tried to block the lawsuit on the grounds that Giuffre lives in Australia and not the United States. That, too, was rejected by a federal judge.
A source close to Prince Andrew said they were “not surprised” by Kaplan’s verdict. “However, it was not a verdict on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s allegations. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims,” they added.
In a 2019 interview with the BBC, Andrew said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre. He also suggested that a photo of them together with Maxwell may have been manipulated.
But Giuffre’s lawsuit alleges Andrew molested her in three places – in London and New York and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands when she was under 18. It echoes claims Giuffre previously detailed on NBC’s Dateline.