Ulrike Beisiegel, President of the University of Göttingen, HRH THe Duke of York, Wolfgang Meyer (SPD), mayor of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany. Photo credit: Stefan Flöper on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Queen of England strips son of royal titles, now to be charged as private civilian amidst U.S-based sexual assault lawsuit

7 mins read

The heads of church and state have long been accused of sex-based crimes including pedophilia and harassment, yet conviction is rare. Now, Queen Elizabeth II has finally decided her son, and not the Crown, will stand trial.

As of January 13, Andrew Mountbatten-Windsor, Duke of York will now be the royal, formerly known as Prince. Buckingham Palace announced that he was stripped of his formal patronages and military affiliations via a statement on their website. Reportedly, his duties are being dispersed among other family members. To add, his royal Twitter handle was deleted too. 

Despite the alleged difficulty in doing so, Queen Elizabeth II was in “approval and agreement” after over 150 navy and army veterans requested the repeal of all eight military titles earlier this month. This comes after an American court negated the 61-year-old’s request to drop Virginia Giuffre’s civil sexual assault case against him. Instead, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of New York’s southern district decided he was to be charged as a private citizen. 

Earlier this month, the royal’s legal team tried to block Giuffre on domicile grounds, citing that the accuser no longer lived in the U.S. However, this was also rejected by Judge Kaplan.

In short, the prince lost his privilege and support from the Crown, financial or otherwise. Even honorary titles abroad—like being colonel-in-chief of The Royal Highland Fusiliers Of Canada—were withdrawn. Moreover, the prince will no longer be called, “His Royal Highness (HRH),” in any official capacity. Nor will he have any power over the military or any armed forces. 

That said, he still informally retains the HRH and prince title like his nephew, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who departed from senior working royal duties in February 2021 along with his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Yet unlike Prince Harry, Prince Andrew is still afforded armed security at the expense of U.K. taxpayers and free rent, along with other amenities. Although Prince Harry voluntarily revoked his title, he  is currently suing the British government for security protection ahead of he and his wife’s U.K. return for his 95-year-old-grandmother’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebration.

. . . .
HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, and HRH The Duchess of York (center front row) with staff at Governor’s Residence Fernberg in October 1988. Photo credit: Queensland State Archives on Flickr

“The bottom line is that the Queen has not nearly gone far enough,” explained lawyer Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu. The activist continued, “I want to see the same energy the queen and the royal family used against Meghan Markle and Princess Diana here. We have the receipts of how these women were treated when they were being ostracized…Princess Diane lost HRH status but had to fight to keep the Princess of Wales title, please. Let’s just see the same energy. ” 

Many critics of the queen’s hesitance to act allege that this is due in part to her second-born son being her favorite. Noted for having a joking personality, he also held high esteem with a career in naval aviation. According to Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, “Andrew has always been the Queen’s favourite son and he has never done anything wrong in her eyes.” 

“He came back a hero [after the Falklands war] and was very much the golden boy of the royal family,” said Katie Nicholl.  

Previously, the duke had a career spanning over two decades in the British Royal Navy, even serving as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. Seen as a war hero upon his return, 500 million people worldwide witnessed the athletic, charismatic man wed Sarah Ferguson in 1986; where his mother gifted the Duke of York title just for him. Although later known for his temper and extravagant spending, he was also ninth in the line of succession to the country’s throne.

A family affair

As the U.K. monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II personifies the sovereign nation. Hence, she enjoys a slew of royal privileges she shares with her family, as well as being the matriarch. Included in her social largess, is the automatic guardianship of her descendants and grandchildren. Added to her special entitlements is  sovereign immunity, meaning exemption from the law and most taxes. 

Ergo, many question why the elite are not considered private citizens in legal matters; in particular, with the individualized nature of the allegations. If the Queen had not stripped him of the titles, Andrew would have been treated or seen as his highness in court; especially since he may not even have had to go to court in the first place. 

For their brood, there are two types of immunity often used to maintain diplomatic relations overseas: absolute immunity ratione personae, which covers both private and official actions committed during their tenure in office; and the second, a qualified immunity ratione materiae, which covers only official acts. Yet, the blanket that the former provides is typically how those of prestige are treated internationally. 

The hope is that reciprocity, or a similar quid pro quo benevolence, would be extended to another state head and their ilk in the future. With the former prince, there is a possible brewing catastrophe to which immunity is used for civilian protections.

| Read: Sexual assault of over 200,000 minors by French Catholic clergy

“And what of the victim? Does the state not have a duty to protect the interests of its people, as well as a duty to ensure peaceful international relations?” Questioned Fordham Law Review. “The language of law deployed as justification here is dangerous and should be curtailed. The proper balance is to recognize that the family members of heads of state have immunity when traveling to foreign countries on official business for their official acts but not for their private acts.”

Against the backdrop of inquiries surrounding royal immunity, this is not their first familial run-in with the law. 

In April 2002, Princess Anne became the first of their pedigree to be convicted of a criminal offense following her dog attacking two children in Windsor Great Park. She stood trial as a “commoner,” and was fined $785. In another case, third-year Ohio law student Jack Kilroy launched a civil suit against Prince Charles for “various rights guaranteed by the (US) Constitution,” after a visit to Cleveland-Marshall in 1978. Ultimately, the case did not move forward. 

However, those cases are not the serious allegations of sexual assault of a minor Mountbatten-Windsor faces.

Predator . . . or the targeted prince? 

The case of Mountbatten-Windsor sits in the middle of high-profile sex crimes of the now deceased Jeffrey Epstein, and his longtime girlfriend Ghislane Maxwell. The prince claims to have met Epstein through Maxwell in 1999. Epstein, a convicted sex offender who moved through elite circles as a financier, is recorded to have died by suicide while he was detained at Metropolitan Correctional Facility in New York on August 10, 2019. Recently, Maxwell was found guilty on five of six sex trafficking charges she faced. Now, she is dealing with civil lawsuits from other victims. 

Since the age of 16, Guiffre claims to have been a victim of the New York billionaire and the female British socialite. Giuffre says Epstein would lend her out to other powerful men within he and Maxwell’s social inner circle. Starting in 2001, Epstein and Maxwell arranged multiple sex encounters between the then 17-year-old Guiffre, and the 41-year-old British royal.

Also known by her maiden name, Virginia Roberts, Guiffre’s 2021 New York lawsuit claims Prince Andrew sexually assaulted and battered her on three occasions. All accounts happened when she was underage. Included in the attacks is her being raped at Maxwell’s London property. 

Yet Mountbatten-Windsor’s lawyers say, “[W]ithout diminishing the harm suffered as a result of Epstein’s alleged misconduct, Prince Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre . . . He unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”

In a 2019 BBC interview, he had gone as far as claiming he has no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre. Mountbatten-Windsor’s response further denied  the allegations in her January 2015 lawsuit against Epstein, where she claimed he trafficked her to Prince Andrew and Harvard law professor, Alana Derowitz. 

Nonetheless, he appeared alongside former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump among a litany of others in the logs for Epstein’s notorious private 757 Boeing jet, the “Lolita Express.” Named after Vladimir Nabokov’s book, Lolita, about a professor who is sexually obsessed with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, the plane was said to ferry celebrities and minors from New York to Epstein’s residences in Palm Beach, Florida and his private Caribbean island, Little Saint James. Allegedly, the plane had padded floors and a large bed installed where inappropriate lurid sexual relations with the children was taking place. 

The prince appears on at least three separate occasions. Initially believed that Epstein sold the aircraft prior to his July 2019 arrest, it has since been recovered in a long-term Brunswick Golden Isles Airport storage area in southeastern Georgia; approximately 70 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida. Epstein committed suicide before his scheduled trials for the sexual trafficking of minors.  

USA, today?

In Prince Andrew’s case, The question of whether to charge the individual or the establishment should be of primary focus. “When these family members commit crimes or act in ways that cause injury, the legal presumption should be that they are liable or prosecutable,” concluded the Fordham Law Review report.

“When the U.S president is impeached, they are seen as an individual; so should Andrew be treated in America,” expressed New York-based paralegal and Shhhh World CEO, Sheana Stokes to the Ark. The full scale business service agency provides legal and marketing assistance, among other professional support.

She continues, “If one’s actions are not indicative of the nation one represents, then alone you go– with no reputation boosting help from the [news]papers. The gregarious war hero representing the U.K. should not be on trial, the alleged rapist of a minor is. Sexual violence, especially against minors, should not be hidden nor buried on page six like it routinely is.”

Indeed, the landscape may be changing. Not only are there religious institutions around the world justifying the predilection for minors via doctrine like marriage, but also national assemblies advocating sexual activities between adults and children such as The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). Although public entities expressing support for pedophiles may be small, they still exist

All the while, the conviction of the internationally popular Maxwell quietly occurred in the background, albeit under review. Despite pleading not guilty, Maxwell was charged with recruiting and sexually trafficking minors for Epstein.

As well, USA Today originally released “What the public keeps getting wrong about pedophilia” on January 11, three days before the queen’s formal announcement. In the article, author Alia Dastagir argues the misunderstanding and possible merits in mainstream acceptance of pedophiles–as long agents do not act on their urges. Both of the aforementioned were met with a wave of dissent.

Yolanda Aguilera focuses on culture, policy, domestic, international relations, and the African and Latin Diasporas.

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