UPDATE: Queen Elizabeth II has removed all of Prince Andrew’s military titles and royal patronages days after it emerged that her son will face a civil trial in New York after his motion to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s sexual assault case was thrown out by a judge.
A statement from Buckingham Palace, released Thursday evening U.K. time, reads: “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.”
Prince Andrew will also no longer be called HRH (His Royal Highness), reports the BBC. According to ITV’s royal correspondent Chris Ship, the monarch broke the news to her second son in person on Thursday.
The swift move from the Queen comes as Prince Andrew finally breaks his silence on the latest legal development that will see him face a civil trial.
“Given the robustness with which Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are unsurprised by the ruling,” a spokesperson tells Variety. “However, it was not a judgement 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.”
The British royal’s legal team sought to have the case, lodged by Epstein survivor Guiffre, dismissed on the basis that it was “legally insufficient,” largely due to a settlement she signed in 2009 with Epstein, which Prince Andrew claimed released him from any liability. However, a judge threw out the claim on Wednesday, noting that the 2009 agreement “cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, that the parties intended the instrument ‘directly,’ ‘primarily,’ or ‘substantially’ to benefit Prince Andrew.”
That means that the royal, who is ninth in line to the throne, will be forced to fight Giuffre’s claims of sexual assault in a New York courtroom.
Giuffre alleges that Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was 17. She is suing for battery and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Giuffre has long claimed she was the victim of a sex trafficking ring presided over by Epstein in which the now-deceased financier passed her and other victims around powerful friends and acquaintances between 1999 and 2007.
As the case is a civil matter, however, there is no suggestion that, at this stage, he could face any jail time, unlike his close friend Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently convicted on charges of sex trafficking linked to Epstein’s activities.
More to come.
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