Queen Elizabeth delivers The Order of the Boot to Prince Andrew

Toby Melville/Pool via AP

Prince Harry quit. Prince Andrew got fired, one day after a US federal court ruled that a lawsuit against him for sex trafficking could proceed. And he got fired by his own mother, Queen Elizabeth, leaving Andrew more or less on his own to face off against Virginia Roberts Giuffre:


Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has had his military titles and royal patronages revoked just one day after his attempt to have a lawsuit dismissed from alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre was denied.

Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that Andrew’s titles and patronages have been returned to his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” the palace said in a statement. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Andrew had already been forcibly retired from his public duties, a decision reportedly endorsed by his elder brother Prince Charles, and reportedly urged by him. This  makes that decision even more intentional and makes a statement about Andrew’s standing in both the case and among the royal family.  The BBC reports that Andrew will have to give up the HRH designation, and that this move may have been prompted by Andrew’s military relations:

He will stop using the title ‘His Royal Highness’ in any official capacity, they added.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said it had no comment about the duke’s military titles being handed back to the Queen, and that it was a matter for the Palace.

It comes after a letter signed by more than 150 Royal Navy, RAF and Army veterans asked the Queen to strip Prince Andrew of his eight British military appointments.

The latest announcement means Prince Andrew loses military titles including Colonel of the Grenadier Guards – one of the most senior infantry regiments in the British Army.


The New York Times also reported that the military units to which Andrew was attached objected enough to notice:

Andrew had already been largely banished from public life. But he continued to hold a series of honorary military titles, which aroused protests from former members of those units, given the legal charges hanging over him.

The removal of the HRH designation has nothing to do with those military affiliations, however. That’s a personal slap at his standing within the family. The Queen insisted that Harry desist from using it when he and his wife Meghan quit the family business and moved to the US. The honor was also stripped from Princess Diana after the divorce from Charles. Both of those instances involved those who purposefully left the family business, however. Stripping it from her own son signals a particular level of familial disapproval, especially since Andrew had been considered the closest among Elizabeth’s children to her.

It might signal something else, too. The military units’ objections may have contributed to the decision, maybe, but it hardly seems coincidental that this comes immediately after a court denied Andrew’s motion to dismiss. The Royal Family Incorporated must be worried about what could come out in a trial over Andrew’s connections to Jeffrey Epstein and the Lolita Express sex trafficking that took place. They’re certainly taking great pains to make sure everyone now knows that Andrew Windsor, Private Citizen will be on trial rather than Prince Andrew.

This might be a good time for Andrew and his attorneys to look for a settlement. The Beeb also notes that it will take more than money to escape, though:


David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, told the BBC she wants to be vindicated. …

He said: “I think it’s very important to Virginia Giuffre that this matter be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims. I don’t think she has a firm view as to exactly what a solution should be.

“But I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution vindicates her and vindicates the claim she has made.” …

Asked if Ms Giuffre would be open to an out-of-court money settlement, her lawyer said he did not want to “pre-judge that”, adding there had been “no suggestion of settlement discussions at this point”.

“A purely financial settlement is not anything I think she is interested in,” he said.

That points up another possible reason for today’s action by the Queen. It may well be that Andrew and his team want to offer a settlement to Roberts Giuffre that includes an admission of some wrongdoing in order to put an end to the legal action. The Queen and Charles would want to put maximum distance between Andrew and the rest of the family under those circumstances to protect the monarchy for Prince and future King William.

We’ll see what Andrew does next, but it’s a safe bet based on past performance that it will be the stupidest option available to him. Maybe he’ll surprise us the next time out.

Note: The headline refers to a famous anecdote and quote from Winston Churchill, who lost the national elections in July 1945 after the surrender of Germany, forcing him out of his Prime Minister position. King George VI, Elizabeth’s father, offered to grant Churchill the prestigious Order of the Garter out of personal affection and in recognition of Churchill’s legendary war leadership. Churchill thanked the king for his support but replied, ‘How can I accept the Order of the Garter, when the people of England have just given me the Order of the Boot?’


Instead, Churchill received the Order of the Garter from Queen Elizabeth in 1953 while serving a second term as Prime Minister.

Update, 1/14: I was in error about Churchill losing his seat in 1945; I confused that episode with the loss of his seat during World War I. Churchill easily kept his seat in 1945 but the Conservatives got blown out, necessitating his resignation as PM. Thanks to Twitter reader Ed Allie for pointing out the error. I’ve fixed the text above.

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