Prince Andrew loses freedom of York in wake of Virginia Giuffre rape case settlement

Prince Andrew has also been urged to give up his Duke of York title following the settlement of his sexual assault case

Prince Andrew has been stripped of another honour after councillors in York unanimously voted to remove his honorary freedom of the city.

A meeting of York city council on Wednesday (27 April) also heard councillors call for the Duke of York to have his dukedom removed in the wake of his now settled sexual assault civil case.

Prince Andrew has been stripped of his honorary freedom of the city of York (Photo: Getty Images)

What did councillors say?

Lib Dem, Labour, Tory, Green and independent councillors came together to vote unanimously for the motion at York Racecourse on Wednesday, with members of the public joining in the chorus of condemnation for the duke.

Many of those who spoke at the 30-minute meeting said they wanted Prince Andrew to relinquish his Duke of York title and remove what Labour councillor Aisling Musson called “his stain of an association with this city”.

Ms Musson told the meeting: “We owe it to the people of York, particularly those who have been affected by sexual violence, abuse or human trafficking.

“Our first duty is not to our reputation but to their well-being and protection, and to remove this stain of an association with this city which I’m sure has weighed heavily on their minds.”

Independent councillor Dave Taylor told the meeting he hoped Andrew would be replaced by his daughter, Beatrice, as Duchess of York.

“In contrast to her father, she is personable, intelligent and does her homework, or reads her briefing papers when visiting the City of York,” Mr Taylor said.

Councillors said if the duke failed to act, the Queen or the government should step in and remove the title.

Labour MP Rachael Maskell, who represents York Central, has repeatedly said the prince should give up his association with the city out of respect.

ouncillors in York unanimously voted to remove the duke’s honorary freedom of the city (Photo: PA)

All councillors voted in favour except the Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor elect who said they were abstaining as was the convention in their office. Lord Mayor Chris Cullwick said this constituted a unanimous decision.

Speaking after the meeting, Lib Dem Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities and proposer of the motion, said: “The Honorary Freedom of York is the highest honour we, as a city, can bestow on those who represent the very best of York. The honour is held by many notable and accomplished people who carry it with pride and responsibly.

“Having been stripped of his military roles and royal patronages by the Queen, we believe that it is right to remove all links that Prince Andrew still has with our great city.

“I was pleased to see councillors of all parties support this motion and make it clear that it is no longer appropriate for Prince Andrew to represent York and its residents.

“The removal of this honorary title sends the right message that we as a city stand with victims of abuse.

“The next logical step is now for Prince Andrew to do the right thing and relinquish his Duke of York title. If he fails to do so, the government and Buckingham Palace must step in to remove his title to finally end Prince Andrew’s connection to York.”

What is the honorary freedom of the city?

The honorary freedom of the city is bestowed to recognise notable service by local residents, to distinguished people, and to royalty, the council has said.

The honour has also been bestowed to the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill, film composer John Barry and actress Dame Judi Dench.

Prince Andrew was given the freedom as a wedding present from York in 1987 shortly after his marriage to Sarah Fergusen, and is the first ever person to have it removed.

Why has Prince Andrew been stripped of the honour?

The motion to strip the royal of the honour was brought following the settlement his sexual assault civil case with Virginia Giuffre in February.

Ms Giuffre had claimed she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 - a claim the royal has denied.

The case was settled out of court and the prince paid an undisclosed settlement said to be at least £12 million.

The out-of-court settlement meant Prince Andrew made no admission of guilt, but the cost of the case to his reputation has been huge.

It was announced in February that the Queen was stripping the prince of his military affiliations and royal patronages, and he can no longer use the HRH royal style in any official capacity.