Image Source: Getty / John Thys
Queen Elizabeth II stripped her son Prince Andrew of all military titles and royal patronages on Jan. 13 following a sexual assault lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who claims Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was 17. Andrew's motion to dismiss the suit was recently denied by a judge, and he will face a civil trial in New York.
"With The Queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York's military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen." Following the announcement, Andrew will no longer be referred to as His Royal Highness, or HRH. The Queen reportedly broke the news to Andrew in person on Thursday, according to ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship, per Variety.
Virginia is suing Andrew for sexual assault and battery, which continue to cause "significant emotional and psychological distress and harm." Virginia also claims she was the victim of a sex-trafficking ring led by millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, which predominantly operated from 1999 to 2007. Epstein was found dead in his jail cell while awaiting trial in 2019.
In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for Andrew issued the following statement: "Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling. However, it was not a judgement on the merits of Ms. Giuffre's allegations." The statement continued, "This is a marathon not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims."
The royal claimed that a 2009 settlement signed by Virginia relieved him of all liability for the experiences she allegedly endured. The judge presiding over the Giuffre case noted that the agreement "cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, that the parties intended the instrument 'directly,' 'primarily,' or 'substantially' to benefit Prince Andrew."