Prince Andrew forces the Queen to defend the crown ‘at all costs’

Prince Andrew has given his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, no choice but to inflict the humiliation of stripping him of his honorary military titles as his US civil sexual assault trial looms.

FILE: In this file photo taken November 3, 2019, Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York leaves after speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the 35th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Photo: AFP

LONDON — Long described as his favorite son, Prince Andrew has left his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, no choice but to inflict the humiliation of stripping him of his honorary military titles as his US civil trial for sexual assault is looming.

The decision, announced by Buckingham Palace in a terse statement on Thursday, dominated British newspapers on Friday, with many seeing it as a sign of the 95-year-old Queen’s desire to “distance herself” from her son.

“It’s the survival of the royal institution at all costs – and it always will be,” writes the Daily Mail.

‘It’s probably over for him’ now that he has lost his royal patronages and will no longer use the title ‘His Royal Highness’, said royal historian Bob Morris.

“The time had come to push it even further out of the spotlight,” he told AFP.

The situation became untenable after a New York judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a civil suit accusing the prince of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre when she was 17.

She claims to have been given to the prince by his friend Jeffrey Epstein.

The pressure intensified when 150 servicemen wrote to the Queen decrying what they said was a lack of ‘probity, honesty and honorable conduct’ by 61-year-old Andrew.

The long-running scandal involving the Duke of York, ninth to the throne, also threatens to overshadow celebrations in June to mark the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s reign.

“I think it was a huge embarrassment that retired serving servicemen were demanding that the titles be removed,” said Penny Junor, author of numerous books on the British monarchy.

“It becomes detrimental to the queen because the queen is then seen as protecting her son.”

BLACK SHEEP

Morris said “now really is the time to execute a Plan B to protect the monarchy and protect, in particular, the Platinum Jubilee”.

Four days of festivities are planned across the country in early June, including a military parade, a major concert in London and a pudding contest.

The queen, whose public appearances are becoming increasingly rare, would have made her decision after discussions with Charles, heir to the crown, and her grandson Prince William, second in line to the throne, according to British media.

Andrew, was reportedly summoned to Windsor Castle and driven there with his solicitor.

He lives 3 miles from the castle of Royal Lodge, the former home of the Queen’s mother.

On Friday he was called upon to ‘renounce his title of Duke of York’ due to the negative impact of the affair with the northern English town.

Whatever the outcome of the civil trial in New York, where an out-of-court financial settlement remains an option, anger will be directed at Andrew, rather than the monarchy, Morris predicted.

Andrew “is the black sheep of the family, but the family will continue,” he added.

Andrew retains his title as Duke of York and remains “Councillor of State”, a position conferred on the Queen’s children, which allows them to temporarily perform his duties, if necessary.

But he has already stepped back from public life following a calamitous TV interview in 2019, in which he faced accusations of sexual assault, which he categorically denies.

A government official declined to say on Friday whether its security service would continue to be paid for by taxpayers.

It is also unclear whether he will be able to attend the planned memorial service for his father, Prince Philip, at Westminster Abbey in the coming months.

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