Under the threat of a civil lawsuit in the United States for sexual assault, Prince Andrew, second son of Elizabeth II, has lost his military titles, sinking into the disgrace caused by the Epstein case, increasingly embarrassing for the British monarchy.
The resounding announcement from Buckingham Palace on Thursday comes a day after Prince Andrew rejected appeals in New York to try to defeat a civil complaint in New York from an American who accuses him of sexual assault in 2001, when she was 17. Prince Andrew vigorously disputes these accusations.
“With the consent and approval of the Queen, the Duke of York's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen,” the Prince announced. palace.
The prince “will continue not to take public office and is defending himself in this case as a private citizen,” Buckingham said, implying that the queen would not fund his legal fees.
The Duke of York will also no longer use the term “Royal Highness” in an official capacity, a royal source said.< /p>
Prince Andrew has retired from public life since his calamitous BBC interview in the fall of 2019, where he claimed to have no memory of meeting Virginia Giuffre and defending his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, found hanged in prison.
'Probity and honorable behaviour'
On Thursday, more than 150 'angry' former members of the British Army called on the Queen to strip the former pilot of the British Army of his military titles helicopter during the Falklands War (1982), who spent 22 years in the Navy.
In this letter published by the group opposed to the monarchy Republic, the signatories accuse the prince of having failed to meet the criteria of “probity, honesty and honorable behavior” incumbent on the British military.
The complainant , Virginia Giuffre, claims to have been delivered to the prince by the Jeffrey Epstein, friend of the queen's second son, who died in prison in 2019.
Unless a successful appeal or agreement does intervenes by then, the trial could be held in the fall.
A source close to the Duke said he intends to “continue to defend himself” and stresses that the decision handed down by the New York judge on Wednesday does not constitute a “judgment on the merits of the charges” of Virginia Giuffre.
“It's a marathon and not a sprint”, argued this source.
“Rabbit running away”
This affair casts a dark cloud over the British Crown, days after the program of Platinum Jubilee festivities for Elizabeth II's seven-decade reign was announced in June, complete with parades, concert, pudding contest and additional holiday.
One of Virginia Giuffre's lawyers, David Boies, told the BBC on Wednesday evening that his client was not ruling out a deal, but that a simple financial transaction would not be enough.
“He is very important” to her “that this matter be resolved in a way that proves her right and that proves the other victims right,” he said.
Going to trial, risking revelations and defeat or concluding an agreement that would sound like a confession, for Prince Andrew, “there is no good solution”, declared to AFP Anna Whitelock, historian specializing in the monarchy at the City University of London.
And a financial agreement would bring its share of questions on “the origin of this money”, she underlines.
According to the press British, the prince recently settled a dispute over a debt of 6.6 million pounds sterling (nearly 8 million euros), which will allow him to sell a chalet in Switzerland that he had acquired in 2014, for a sum which would amount to 18 million pounds (21 million euros).
In recent months, Prince Andrew has “gave the impression of being a rabbit who runs away” or “ hiding in her mother's tartan skirts at Balmoral to avoid court documents addressed to her,” former royal columnist Jennie Bond commented on Sky News on Thursday.
“That embarrassment for a 95-year-old woman to have to question her 61-year-old son about accusations of sexual misconduct,” continued the former BBC columnist.