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Queen Elizabeth II revoked Prince Andrew's military associations and royal patronages Thursday, a day after a federal judge in New York refused to dismiss a sexual abuse lawsuit by an American woman against him.
"With The Queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York's military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen," said a statement from Buckingham Palace.
Andrew, 61, the queen's second son, was sued by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, who alleges that Andrew raped and sexually assaulted her in New York in 2001 when she was 17. She claims that Andrew's friend Jeffery Epstein trafficked her to him and that the prince knew it.
The move to disassociate Andrew from his much-prized military affiliations has been a long time coming but gained force in recent weeks as proceedings in the civil suit in New York persisted, despite Andrew's lawyers' efforts to get it dismissed.
Many senior members of the royal family hold honorary military associations and royal patronages, distributed by the monarch as a major part of the job of being a royal. Andrew served in the Royal Navy as a pilot and saw service in the Falklands War in 1982, from which he returned as something of a hero to many royal fans.
In the wake of developments in the lawsuit, British military leaders complained publicly and anonymously to the media that links with the prince were embarrassing and untenable.
More than 150 military veterans asked the queen to strip Andrew of his honorary military roles, expressing what they described as their “upset and anger" in an open letter published in The Guardian. The monarchy-skeptical newspaper reported that the palace refused to comment on the letter Thursday.
Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at the international law firm Ince in London, said stripping military titles and royal patronages is a "significant development" in royal terms.
"It would appear that the royal family are trying to distance themselves from the fallout from the Virginia Giuffre case and the toxicity of the allegations made against the Duke of York,” he told USA TODAY.
A statement from Buckingham Palace regarding The Duke of York: pic.twitter.com/OCeSqzCP38
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) January 13, 2022
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in an opinion Wednesday that Andrew's lawyers failed in their challenge to the lawsuit Giuffre filed in August.
Andrew's lawyers cited multiple reasons for dismissal, but most attention was focused on their argument that a settlement Giuffre reached in 2009 in a separate lawsuit she filed against Epstein protected Andrew from being sued.
Kaplan was skeptical of that argument at a hearing Jan. 4, and his ruling rejected it. He said Andrew's name was not mentioned in the settlement, which he described as "far from a model of clear and precise drafting."
"Today’s decision by Judge Kaplan denying Prince Andrew’s effort to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s case against him is another important step in Virginia‘s heroic and determined pursuit of justice as a survivor of sex trafficking," Sigrid McCawley, one of Giuffre's team of lawyers, said in a statement obtained by USA TODAY.
Andrew has been under fire in Britain since at least 2011 for his friendship with Epstein, the convicted American sex offender who died in jail in 2019. Giuffre has been airing her allegations against Andrew publicly since 2015.
Andrew has strenuously denied all of her accusations, claiming he didn't remember meeting her even though a picture of them together was widely shared on the internet.
In 2019, after a disastrous interview with the BBC about his Epstein friendship and Giuffre's allegations, Andrew "stepped back" from royal duties with the queen's approval but retained his military associations while losing some of his charitable patronages.
He did not lose his title Duke of York as a result of Thursday's announcement. The palace did not say whether he loses his HRH (His Royal Highness) status, but multiple British media outlets, including the BBC and the Telegraph, reported he will no longer be able to use it in any official capacity.
By contrast, the queen's grandson Prince Harry, a former member of the British Army, was forced to relinquish his military associations and royal patronages when he gave up his royal role and moved to California in 2020. Harry, the son of Andrew's brother Prince Charles, agreed to not use his HRH in connection with his commercial activities.
Andrew held at least eight honorary military titles, such as colonel of the Grenadier Guards and colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment. "These are highly respected titles in the general scheme of things," Goldstone said.
On Jan. 8, The Mirror reported that Col. Tim Collins, the former commanding officer of the Royal Irish Regiment, called publicly on Andrew to "jump before he is pushed" out of his roles. The newspaper reported Collins was believed to be the most senior military figure to urge Andrew to step down.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince Andrew's military titles revoked by queen amid sex lawsuit