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Prince Andrew loses royal and military ties

LONDON – Prince Andrew saw his military ties and royal sponsorships removed on Thursday and will no longer be known as ‘His Royal Highness’, Buckingham Palace said, as Queen Elizabeth II’s son battles an American lawsuit in which he is accused of abusing sex.

Andrew, 61, Duke of York, was forced to resign from public office in 2019 due to his ties to US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and after a disastrous BBC TV interview which the prince had hoped to erase his name.

The royal family’s move on Thursday means he will now lose all of his royal connections.

“With the Queen’s approval and consent, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal sponsorships have been returned to the Queen,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

“The Duke of York will continue to hold no public office and defend this matter as a private citizen.”

Andrew’s lawyers failed to persuade a U.S. judge on Wednesday to dismiss a civil lawsuit in which Virginia Giuffre accuses her of sexually assaulting her as a teenager.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre, 38, could pursue allegations Andrew beat her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while Epstein – a financier who committed suicide in prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking – trafficked her.

The prince, the Queen’s 95-year-old second son, has denied Giuffre’s accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at a London home of the former partner of ‘Epstein Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her in two Epstein properties.

The judge’s ruling means Andrew could be forced to testify in a trial that could begin between September and December 2022 if no deal is reached.

‘MARATHON NOT A SPRINT’

“Considering how firmly Judge Kaplan greeted our arguments, we are not surprised by the decision,” said a source close to Andrew.

“However, this was not a judgment on the merits of Ms Giuffre’s claims. This is a marathon, not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend against these claims.”

Andrew’s ties to Epstein had led to a series of damaging media reports, leading the prince to decide to do a TV interview in November 2019 which he hoped would resolve the issue.

Rather, it led to ridicule and other questions, and as the controversy grew, Buckingham Palace had moved further and further away from the prince, refusing to comment and referring all questions to their lawyers.

The US conviction last month of his friend Ghislaine Maxwell on sex trafficking charges and other charges of recruiting and preparing underage girls to abuse Epstein, as well as his own case, have left his reputation in the UK media in tatters.

A royal source said the decision regarding Andrew came after extensive discussions between the Windsors and that his military affiliations and sponsorships would be redistributed to other family members.

Previously, an open letter to the Queen, signed by more than 150 veterans calling for Andrew to also be stripped of his military titles and “if necessary, be removed from office without honor” was posted by the Republic anti-monarchy campaign group.

They called on the Queen to take immediate action because her son had been “uncooperative and untrue” about his relationship with Epstein, and brought discredit on the armed forces he represented.

“Whatever the outcome of Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew, her position in the British armed forces is now untenable,” the veterans letter reads.

The scandal surrounding Andrew follows damage caused after the Queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan stepped down from royal duties to forge a new career in Los Angeles, later accusing the royal household of racism.

They too were stripped of all their sponsorship, the titles of “His and His Royal Highness,” and Harry also lost his valuable military roles.