Prince Andrew's military affiliations, royal patronages returned to Queen after US judge sex abuse case ruling

Prince Andrew's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen, Buckingham Palace has announced in an extraordinary statement just a day after a US judge ruled the Duke of York must face sex abuse claims.

"The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen," the statement says.

It's also being reported he will no longer use the style of "His Royal Highness".

Virginia Giuffre alleges that Prince Andrew, the Queen's son and Duke of York, sexually assaulted her at the age of 17. She says this occurred after she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. 

The prince has consistently denied the allegations, including in an infamous 2019 interview in which one of his defences was a claim he cannot sweat

Following that disastrous interview, Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties for the "foreseeable future", noting his association with Epstein was a "major disruption" to the royal family.

On Thursday,  US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre could pursue claims that Prince Andrew battered her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while the late financier Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her.

Prince Andrew's lawyers had argued he couldn't be tried as he was covered by a deal made in 2009 between Epstein and Giuffre.

The deal, released publicly earlier this month, shows that Giuffre was paid US$500,000 by the now-dead sex offender Epstein to end a claim for damages. She also agreed not to bring any cases against other "potential defendants"; whether that applies to Prince Andrew, who is not named in the deal, is what was put into question. The judge said it was too soon to decide that.

In a new statement on Friday, Prince Andrew's officials said they were "unsurprised" by the ruling on Thursday due to the nature of the judge's engagement with their arguments.

"However, it was not a judgement on the merits of Ms Giuffre's allegations. This is a marathon not a sprint and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims."

There had been speculation the Duke may attempt to settle with Giuffre, but British media now report that is unlikely, with the prince wanting to fight the case.

The Queen's decision also comes after more than 150 veterans signed an open letter calling on her to strip her son of his military titles over his relationship with Epstein.

"We are particularly upset and angry that Prince Andrew remains a member of the armed forces and continues to hold military titles, positions and ranks, including that of Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy," the letter said.

"We are therefore asking that you take immediate steps to strip Prince Andrew of all his military ranks and titles and, if necessary, that he be dishonourably discharged."