Duke of York’s US court battle has finally become too damaging for the Royal Family

From the palace saying they wouldn’t comment on the court case, to a shock statement in essence confirming it’s over for Prince Andrew’s royal role.

Despite his constant denials and his conviction that he will fight this case, the ongoing battle in the US courts and the allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl have finally become too damaging. He is no longer officially an HRH.

Prince Andrew was seen for the first time since a judge ruled that he should face the civil charges brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. Pic: Shutterstock© Rex Features Prince Andrew was seen for the first time since a judge ruled that he should face the civil charges brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. Pic: Shutterstock

Since he decided to step down from royal duties following that disastrous Newsnight interview two years ago, Prince Andrew has been in self-imposed exile. No official work, no events representing the military.

But there has still been this peculiar situation where he has kept a number of his royal charity patronages and his military affiliations, even though he hasn’t been able to do anything in public to represent them.

Unease at still having to toast Duke of York

Getting members of the military to go on the record about the situation has been difficult, mainly out of respect for the Queen.

She is after all head of the armed forces, but there have been reports of significant unease at still having to toast the Duke of York at dinner.

The phrasing of Thursday’s statement is interesting – it doesn’t make it entirely clear if Prince Andrew voluntarily handed back the titles or if he was leant on significantly by members of the family to give them up.

But what is clear is that the judge’s announcement on Wednesday, one that means the prospect of a trial looms even larger, meant the current situation just could not continue any longer.

Of course, there is also the question of who made the decision.

Prince Andrew is often referred to as the Queen’s favourite son. Would she have decided it alone? I suspect not and I understand this was widely discussed within the family.

And don’t forget Prince Charles and Prince William are now taking on significant responsibilities on the Queen’s behalf, representing and shaping the institution. They are just as invested as her majesty in defending the royal name, not just for her reign but their future tenures as monarch.

The final sentence was also particularly telling, stressing that he is defending this case “as a private citizen”, another phrase that appears to push him even further out into the cold; a reminder to us all that it is Andrew as an individual and not as a royal who will potentially stand trial at the end of the year.

So why after years of these allegations being front page news has this happened now?

You could argue that sometimes there is nothing more fatal than inaction. In the case of the monarch, the last thing she would want was for this to become a political matter, where her prime minister and her cabinet were advising her to take action against her son to avoid any kind of international embarrassment.

The Queen has again acted quickly

As we saw when it all blew up around the Sussexes, the Queen has again acted quickly. The situation with Prince Andrew, and the seriousness of the allegations, may be different from the Harry and Meghan situation, but the principles at play are the same.

While privately she may be supporting her son, nothing is bigger than the reputation of the institution. And of course, this is a year where the British monarchy was always going to be in the spotlight.

We can potentially see this as an attempt to draw a line under it as the rest of the family try to focus on the platinum jubilee. Although with story of this magnitude there is little doubt the court case will continue to cast a considerable shadow.


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