Britain's Prince Andrew forces Queen to defend Crown 'at all costs'

LONDON (AFP) – Long described as her favourite son, Prince Andrew gave his mother Queen Elizabeth II little choice but to inflict the humiliation of stripping him of his honorary military titles as his US civil trial for sexual assault looms.

The decision, announced by Buckingham Palace on Thursday in a terse statement, dominated UK newspapers on Friday (Jan 14), with many seeing it as a sign of the 95-year-old Queen’s desire to “distance herself” from her son.

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

“It’s probably over for him” now 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 him further back out of the limelight,” 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 she was offered to the prince by his friend Jeffrey Epstein.

The pressure ramped up when 150 military personnel wrote to the Queen to denounce what they said was 61-year-old Andrew’s lack of “probity, honesty and honourable conduct”.

The long-running scandal involving the Duke of York, who is ninth in line to the throne, also threatens to overshadow celebrations in June to mark the 70th year of the queen’s reign.

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

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“It becomes damaging to the Queen because the Queen is then seen as protecting her son.”

‘Black sheep’

Morris said that “the moment had come really to execute a Plan B to protect the monarchy and to protect, in particular, the Platinum Jubilee”.

Four days of festivities are planned across the country at the beginning of June, including a military parade, a large concert in London and a pudding competition.

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


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