Prince Andrew of Britain was stripped Thursday by his mother Queen Elizabeth II of his military affiliations and royal patronages as he continues fighting a New York lawsuit that accuses him of sexually abusing an underage girl while she was in thrall to sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew, who had been a close friend of Epstein, also no longer will use the style “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity, according to a royal source, Reuters reported.
The news agency also reported that Andrew’s official roles will be handed to other members of the royal family.
“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.”
The announcement came within hours of a letter from more than 150 veterans of the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army calling on the queen to strip her second son of all his titles and ranks in the armed forces.
The letter said that Andrew had “fallen well short of” the military’s highest standards of “probity, honesty and honourable conduct.”
“It is hard not to see, when senior officers are reportedly describing him as ‘toxic’, that he has brought the services he is associated with into disrepute,” the letter said.
Virginia Giuffre claims in her Manhattan federal court lawsuit that she had sex with the prince at age 17 several times at the direction of Ghislaine Maxwell, who recently was convicted at a criminal trial in the same court of procuring other underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein.
Andrew denies Giuffre’s allegations and has said he does not recall ever meeting her.
A judge on Wednesday rejected Andrew’s request that the lawsuit be dismissed. Lawyers for the Duke of York had argued that a civil settlement that Epstein reached with Giuffre in 2008 barred her from suing Andrew or others who allegedly abused her as a result of her connection with Epstein.
Epstein, who also had previously been friends with former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died in 2019 in a Manhattan federal jail while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges. Officials ruled that he committed suicide by hanging.
Scores of women have said Epstein sexually abused them as girls or young women. Federal authorities in 2008 cut a deal with Epstein that allowed him to escape federal criminal sex charges at that time in exchange for pleading guilty in a Florida state criminal case to soliciting an underage prostitute.