The latest damning judgment against the Queen’s second son was handed down by councillors in the northern English city of York, who voted unanimously to strip the prince of his Freedom of the City on Wednesday.
This honor was bestowed upon him in 1987, and its removal sends a strong message: Andrew, the Duke of York, is unwanted in the place from which he takes his royal title.
The move was backed by parties across the political spectrum. The largest group on the council, the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement: “We have made it clear that it is not appropriate for Prince Andrew to represent York and its residents. The removal of this title sends the right message that we as a city stand with victims of abuse.”
Despite the conclusion to the civil case, Andrew’s lengthy association with Epstein has wrecked his reputation as a senior royal.
That title was a wedding gift from the Queen, and it would require a vote in Britain’s Parliament to have it revoked. Nobody has tabled such a motion — yet. But if they do, and it passes, Elizabeth would need to sign it into law in her role as head of state. That would be the ultimate indignity for the prince, who’s already had to agree to stop using the title “His Royal Highness” after being stripped of his royal duties and patronages by his mother.
It may not get to that point. The member of Parliament for York Central, Rachael Maskell, has suggested Andrew could voluntarily relinquish his title.
There is no suggestion from Prince Andrew that he plans to do that. If he did, his last remaining title would be “Prince,” which is a birthright for any son of the monarch. Again, an Act of Parliament would be required to take it away.
Andrew was stripped of his military titles and charity patronages in February. A royal source told CNN at the time that he would no longer use the style “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity, adding that the decision was “widely discussed” among the royal family.
Neither Buckingham Palace nor Andrew’s personal spokesperson had any comment to make on the council vote in York, but the fact the prince keeps grabbing headlines ahead of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations in June will be frustrating for those involved in the build-up.
And it remains to be seen whether the royal family are inclined to cede to pressure against Andrew, or take the opposite path by attempting to gradually reintroduce him to public life.
While he no longer has an official role, he is still part of the family. That’s why we saw Andrew at Prince Philip’s memorial service, which was televised but was primarily a family event. Eyebrows were raised when Andrew emerged, walking his mother down the aisle to her seat — a reminder that public anger won’t dictate every decision the palace makes.
The family will now be considering whether or how to integrate Andrew into the jubilee events. The current thinking is that he won’t be involved in the more formal and official proceedings, but we may see him when the family makes its traditional appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Another tough royal tour in the Caribbean.
Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex have become the second royal couple in a matter of weeks to face awkward questions about the monarchy’s place in the world while touring the Caribbean.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister told the pair that the nation wants to “one day become a republic” in a face-to-face meeting on Monday, months after Barbados took the step and cut formal ties with the Queen.
Edward, Queen Elizabeth’s youngest child, laughed nervously in response to the comments, according to UK news agency PA Media, which was on the trip.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne also brought up the question of compensation for slavery, an issue that has frequently cropped up in protests in recent months.
Edward and Sophie faced small but consistent demonstrations on the fringes of their official engagements during the multi-nation tour. In St. Lucia, a small group of activists picketed a royal walkabout. One protester told PA: “We want reparations now. The Queen of England needs to apologize for slavery.”
The couple already canceled one leg of their tour at the last minute, abruptly announcing last week that they wouldn’t visit Grenada. No reason was given for the postponement.
Royal tours have long attracted activists, but the tone of these demonstrations has shifted in recent months as the concept of republicanism has moved into the realm of reality in some nations.
It would once have been extraordinary for a Commonwealth leader to tell senior royals, in front of the press, that they want to leave the monarchy behind. But Edward and Sophie must have expected the issue would crop up this time around.
Prince William addressed the topic during his March trip, discussing Britain’s historical role in slavery in his only speech during the couple’s stop in Jamaica, denouncing the “abhorrent” practice and expressing his “profound sorrow.”
But some protesters are demanding a more concrete response, like a formal apology from the royals, or reparation payments to countries affected.
In parts of the Commonwealth, the legacy of slavery remains front and center, and as those questions persist, the monarchy’s global reach could recede further.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
The Queen is back at Windsor.
Elizabeth II was in a cheery mood as she returned to Windsor Castle after a week-long break at her Sandringham estate. The Queen met with the President of Switzerland on Thursday and could attend the state opening of Parliament in two weeks’ time, ahead of her jubilee celebrations in early June. Observers will be relieved to see her back at work. In the past few months, the Queen has suffered from Covid and was forced to pull out of Easter services due to mobility problems.
Charles hails journalists in Ukraine.
Ed Sheeran and corgi puppets sign up to cheer the Queen.
Details are emerging about the public festival that will mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee in June — and it’s sounding like an eclectic show. A musical tribute by Ed Sheeran will form part of the £15 million Platinum Jubilee Pageant, it was confirmed on Tuesday. A pack of corgi puppets will also take center stage, in what organizers say will be a scene of “humorous chaos” on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace. Other highlights include singer Cliff Richard, an aerial artist suspended under a giant helium balloon, a group of maypole dancers and a moving wedding cake that will play Bollywood hits. We’ll reserve judgment until the big day.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Breaking news: Prince Charles and Camilla try their hand at broadcasting from the set of BBC News in London. Charles said he had watched reporters “shivering on the roofs” during their reporting from Ukraine.
Prince Harry gave a powerful speech to competitors to close the Invictus Games in the Netherlands. The tournament he founded was twice postponed due to the pandemic and finally held its fifth edition this month in The Hague.