Royal News

Prince Andrew shock claim: ‘Duke should be stripped of royal honours and protection’

Andrew announced his decision to step back from his public duties back in November, just days after his ‘car-crash’ interview with BBC Newsnight. The Duke of York had answered a range of questions on his association with Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who was arrested last year on charges of sexual abuse towards young women and girls. He killed himself in jail last year before his trial could begin. US authorities are still investigating Epstein’s alleged international sex trafficking ring and arrested his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has a well-known friendship with Andrew, last month.

Her arrest has renewed public interest in Andrew and his association with both Epstein and Ms Maxwell, and US authorities have even asked the royal to assist with their investigation as a witness.

Andrew’s legal team say they have offered to help on at least three separate occasions, while the FBI argues against such a claim.

Still, Andrew has been on the receiving end of a stream of allegations, too, from Virginia Giuffre.

She claims she was trafficked by Epstein and Ms Maxwell, and when she was just 17 years old, the pair pushed her to have sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions, in 2011.

Andrew and Buckingham Palace have vehemently denied the claims.

The royal told BBC Newsnight that he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady”.

In an official statement, the Palace said: “It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.

“Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”

Although Andrew has shunned the limelight since last November, he has still met some criticism.

Royal commentator Nigel Cawthorne, author of the 2020 book ‘Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace’, recently questioned why the Duke of York still had access to the Sovereign Grant and his HRH status.

Speaking on HeirPod with Omid Scobie earlier this week, Mr Cawthorne said: “What surprises me is that Harry and Meghan say they’re going to have a private life, so they’re going to drop the HRH and they’re not going to take any more money from the Privy Purse, from the long-suffering British taxpayers.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intention to go financially independent earlier this year, when they stepped back from life as working royals.

They also lost the use of their HRH titles during their Megxit negotiations with the Palace, and have promised to pay back the taxpayers’ funds for the £2.4million spent renovating Frogmore Cottage.

Mr Cawthorne continued: “Prince Andrew hasn’t. He still uses his titles, he still gets money from the Queen, which indirectly comes from us.”

He added: “And he’s not fulfilling any royal duties at all, why shouldn’t he be treated the same [as Harry and Meghan]?”

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Andrew signed off his last public statement announcing he was stepping back with “His Royal Highness, The Duke of York”.

Yet, just a handful of months later, Harry and Meghan gave up the use of their HRH titles as they were no longer working to represent the Queen.

The couple will also be paying for their staggering security costs in the US through Prince Charles — rather than using any royal expenditure.

The Home Office reportedly recommended downgrading Andrew’s £300,000-a-year armed guard after he stepped down back in January.

Sources told the Evening Standard that bosses “cannot write a blank cheque for anyone who does not have a public role in the foreseeable future”.

However, it is not known whether Andrew still uses any protection officers.

Back on the podcast, Mr Scobie asked: “Do you think that is a concerted effort from the Palace to provide a layer of protection, or is that just what comes with being the son of the current reigning monarch, regardless of who or what he has been involved in?”

Mr Cawthorne replied: “He is the Queen’s favourite, obviously she has a great deal of influence in this situation.

“But it’s difficult, if they did make an announcement that he was dropping HRH, and was taking no more of the taxpayers’ money, then it just focuses the attention back on him.”

He claimed that the Palace may have learnt from his BBC Newsnight interview that it’s best not to draw attention to it.

Andrew’s PR team declined to comment on the royal’s titles.

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