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Queen Elizabeth Strips Prince Andrew of His Titles Amid Sex Abuse Court Case


LONDON—

Queen Elizabeth

stripped Britain’s

Prince Andrew

of his military affiliations and patronages on Thursday, as Buckingham Palace looks to distance itself from the prince, who is embroiled in a legal battle over allegations that he sexually abused a teenager in the early 2000s.

The queen’s second son also agreed not to use the title “His Royal Highness” in any capacity, a Buckingham Palace official said.

Prince Andrew is facing a possible trial in New York this fall after his lawyers recently failed to halt a suit stemming from his ties to disgraced financier

Jeffrey Epstein

and British socialite

Ghislaine Maxwell.

One of Epstein’s victims,

Virginia Giuffre,

filed the lawsuit against Prince Andrew last year, alleging she was forced to have sex with the British royal when she was 17. Prince Andrew has denied all the allegations.

The removal of his titles marks a fall from grace for Prince Andrew, who has long been the center of negative publicity for the palace. In 2011, he gave up a job as U.K. trade envoy after being criticized over his ties to Epstein and connections to controversial figures in the Middle East. In 2019, he agreed to temporarily step back from royal duties.

Prince Harry was also stripped of his military titles last year and barred from using the HRH title when he quit royal duties in 2020 to move to the U.S.

On Thursday, Buckingham Palace said that Prince Andrew’s military affiliations were returned to the queen with her “approval and agreement.” It added Prince Andrew will defend his in case in New York as a private citizen. Buckingham Palace said he “will continue not to undertake any public duties.”

Prince Andrew, who is a veteran of the Falklands War, was a colonel in the British Army’s Grenadier Guards and also hold several other honorary military titles. Buckingham Palace listed numerous patronages including the Commonwealth Golfing Society and the Helicopter Club of Great Britain. These will be redistributed to other members of the royal family.

The prospect of a highly publicized trial in the year that Queen Elizabeth is due to celebrate her 70 years on the British throne is causing consternation in Buckingham Palace, officials say. Since 2019, the prince has rarely appeared in public with the royal family.

If a trial proceeds, royal watchers now believe that settling out of court with Ms. Giuffre would be the most efficient way to put an end to the matter. However, that could raise questions about who would pay for a settlement, given the British taxpayer helps fund the royal family with an annual grant. Prince Andrew still lives on his mother’s estate in Windsor. He currently doesn’t have a full-time job. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the on ongoing trial.

Prince Andrew was effectively sent into royal exile after trying to clear his name with a 2019 interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. that provoked an intense, negative public reaction.

The prince said during that interview that he regretted staying at Epstein’s New York house in 2010, following Epstein’s release from prison after a sexual-assault conviction. The prince explained he was doing the “honorable thing” by telling Epstein in person that he was ending their relationship. He said that he had no recollection of ever meeting Ms. Giuffre or dancing with her in a London nightclub. He added that her account of him sweating in the nightclub couldn’t be accurate because at the time he had a medical condition that meant he couldn’t sweat.

Prince Andrew later issued a statement saying he regretted his “ill-judged association” with Epstein. He stepped back from royal duties shortly after. However, the announcement at the time always left the door open for his return to the royal front line should his name be cleared. Buckingham Palace’s statement on Thursday appears to close the door on that.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s plans to become “financially independent” have put the royal family’s finances into the spotlight. WSJ’s Max Colchester unpacks the numbers and explains why the monarchy’s money remains a sensitive topic in the U.K. Photo: Ben Stansall/Getty Images

Write to Max Colchester at max.colchester@wsj.com

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