Prince Andrew stripped of NZ military title amid assault case
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has been stripped of his title of Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment, part of the broader fallout from sexual assault allegations against him.
He will also no longer use the title “His Royal Highness”.
Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that “with the Queen’s approval and agreement,” all of Prince Andrew's military affiliations and remaining royal patronages have been returned.
Queen Elizabeth’s second son, who is 61, is facing a US civil lawsuit that accuses him of having sex with a teenager trafficked by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
* Prince Andrew loses military titles, use of His Royal Highness, as sexual assault case moves forward
* Prince Andrew stripped of honourary NZ military title
* Prince Andrew could be stripped of title and cast into 'royal exile' if he loses court case: report
In New Zealand, the Duke of York was formerly the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (The Duke of York’s Own), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said in a statement on Friday morning.
As a result of patronages returning to the Queen, his appointment has now ended, the statement said.
“Any further changes to Royal patronages and appointments would be a matter for the Prime Minister to raise with the Queen of New Zealand in due course,” it said.
The Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment provides support services for the army such as transport, and hospitality and catering. It also administers technical and distribution services for fuel and ammunition, and carries out electrical and mechanical maintenance on equipment.
Colonel-in-Chief is a ceremonial position, which has no operational purpose. The holder has no right to issue orders.
Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said it shouldn’t have taken the intervention of the Queen for Prince Andrew to decouple from his titles.
“This is a man of privilege, from a family of privilege. He should have stepped down.
“He represents a family that commands respect from other nations. Especially when we must treat them with decorum and respect when we enter [parliament]. They need to be leading by example.”
The stripping of the prince’s titles comes as long-simmering sexual assault allegations against Prince Andrew take a new turn. Unconvinced by the argument from Prince Andrew’s lawyers, US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled the case against the prince could go ahead.
Virginia Giuffre, 38, has alleged she was the victim of trafficking by the late billionaire Epstein – who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges – and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. Guiffre is suing the prince, claiming he abused her in 2001, when she was 17.
Maxwell was convicted in December of luring teenage girls as young as 14 to be sexually abused by Epstein. She denied the allegations made by several women.
Maxwell faces the likelihood of years in prison – an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold her accountable for her role in recruiting and grooming Epstein’s teenage victims and sometimes joining in the sexual abuse.
Prince Andrew, who denies the lawsuit allegations and maintains he cannot recall meeting Giuffre, has been mostly out of the public eye for the past year, and many organisations distanced themselves from him after he defended his relationship with Epstein in a disastrous 2019 BBC interview. But, until now, he had retained his honorary military titles with multiple British regiments.
The statement from Buckingham Palace said: “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Prince Andrew’s lawyers called for the complaints to be dismissed as Giuffre agreed to end legal action with Epstein following a 2009 settlement in which she was paid US$500,000 (NZ$735,000).
Legal action against anyone else “who could have been included as a potential defendant,” was included in the settlement, according to a court record.
The prince’s lawyers say that language should bar Virginia Giuffre from suing Andrew now, even though he wasn’t a party to the original settlement.
Prince Andrew was not named in that lawsuit, but Giuffre had alleged in it that Epstein had flown her around the world for sexual encounters with numerous men “including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessmen and/or professional and personal acquaintances”.
The BBC reported the prince would “continue to defend himself” against the case brought by Giuffre. It quoted a royal source as saying a judge’s ruling on Wednesday that the civil action could proceed was “not a judgement on the merits of Ms Giuffre's allegations”.
The palace’s statement came after 150 army, navy and air force veterans wrote to the Queen asking her to strip the prince of his military ranks and titles amid his continued legal trouble.
Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association president BJ Clark declined to comment. “That’s been dealt with by the Army. We don’t comment on the rights or wrongs of the decisions they make.”
Prince Andrew has a long association with the military. He was a Royal Navy helicopter pilot, and is a veteran of the 1982 Falklands War where he served in that role.
Eleanor Parkes is the director of ECPAT Child Alert, which aims to protect New Zealand children from commercial sexual exploitation. She was pleased to see the allegations were being taken seriously.
“Powerful people too often act with impunity.”
Chairman of the National Māori Authority Matthew Tukaki said it was important that ties with Prince Andrew were cut.
“Until the court case is settled, any association between Andrew and New Zealand needs to be set aside. It doesn’t do anyone any good with these allegations hanging over the Crown.
Prominent Te Aroha-based royalist Angela Thompson said “it’s very sad what’s happened. First Harry and Megan and now this, especially with the celebrations for the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations coming up”.
But she said the affair hadn’t tarnished the relationship between the Royal Family and New Zealand in her eyes.
BBC royal correspondent Sean Coughlan described the response by Buckingham Palace as “swift and almost brutal”.
He said Prince Andrew’s family was distancing itself from the allegations, and he would be forced to defend himself as a private citizen.
“The court case will still make headlines, and there will be concerns it could cloud a jubilee year [for the Queen], but this unambiguous decision will have already answered the inevitable calls for his removal from his remaining public roles.”
- with reporting from the Washington Post