Prince Andrew should voluntarily renounce his Duke of York title say councillors in the city after they voted unanimously to removed his Freedom of the City of York in the wake of his settled sexual abuse case.
The prince was branded ‘an utter disgrace’ during the extraordinary meeting to debate his Freedom of the City honour, which was awarded to him in 1987. After discussing the motion for around half an hour, councillors unanimously voted to strip him of the title.
His continued clinging to the title Duke of York was described as as ‘stain’ on the city and councillors are now calling on the Queen, Palace or government to step in and strip him of the title if he refuses ‘to do the right thing’ and resign.
The council also noted objections from the public calling for the prince be banned from attending horse racing events in the city. Another said he should be referred to as ‘Andrew Windsor’ in the future.
Andrew had been warned in advance that he would be losing the freedom of the city, an honour bestowed on him on February 23, 1987, as a wedding gift to Sarah Ferguson. He is the first person ever to have the Freedom of the City removed, councillors were told. There were two formal abstentions – from the Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor elect.
Lib Dem Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure & communities proposed the motion and says he should also now lose the Duke of York title.
He said tonight: ‘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.’
It follows a slew of authorities, institutions, schools and even golf clubs, which have all sought to distance themselves from the disgraced duke since he settled his civil case with Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre.
In the wake of the case, which was settled in February, the 62-year-old was also stripped of his military roles and royal patronages and was told he would no longer be known as ‘His Royal Highness’.
Both Buckingham Palace and a spokesperson for the Duke of York declined to comment.
Prince Andrew pictured with the Queen at Prince Philip’s memorial service. She may have to strip him of his dukedom if he doesn’t voluntarily give it up, York councillors say
Prince Andrew, at the York racecourse in 2015 to open the new weighing room on the first day of The Dante Festival. The racecourse was the site of tonight’s vote to strip him of the title
Lord Mayor of York Cllr Chris Cullwick (centre) during a meeting of the York City Council at the York Racecourse, where councillors passed a motion to remove the Duke of York’s Honorary Freedom of the City
Councillor Darryl Smalley, pictured in the meeting, said: ‘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’
The prince pictured with his accuser Virginia Giuffre (centre) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right), who was found guilty in 2021 of child sex trafficking
In the wake of his sex abuse case, which was settled in February, the 62-year-old (pictured driving around Windsor) was also stripped of his military roles and royal patronages and was told he would no longer be known as ‘His Royal Highness’
Prince Andrew meets the crowd during a visit to York in 1987, the year he was awarded the Freedom of the City
York City Council considered the motion: ‘The Council resolves that, pursuant to Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972, the City of York Council withdraws the Honorary Freeman of the City status from the Duke of York which was conferred upon him in 1987.’
The meeting at York Race Course started with an impassioned plea from York resident Gwen Swinburn, who is well known for her clashes with the council.
She said: ‘This motion could not have been any weaker. Mr Andrew Windsor is an utter disgrace. He brings shame and reputational damage everywhere he goes including to our city.
‘The motion to withdraw his status goes nowhere near far enough. He needs to be declared persona non grata in York.’
‘As we all know, he loves his horse racing so please agree to write to the race course asking he never be invited here,’ she continued.
‘That man casts a long shadow and our Queen has removed almost all titles and a responsibilities except his dukedom which stains this city. We need to do more than the easy bit, which is to remove his freedom.’
Councillor Aisling Musson, for York Labour Group, added: ‘This title damages the reputation of our city. We owe it to the people of York, in particular those affected by sexual violence, abuse or human trafficking.
‘Our first duty is not to our reputation but their well-being and protection and remove this stain of association on our city which I am sure has weighed heavily on their minds – and may even have brought up pain and trauma they have worked hard to move past from.’
Councillor Mark Warters added: ‘While it is purely a symbolic act it does send a very strong signal from this city.’
Councillor Martin Rolley, for the Tory Group, is also calling for a new watchdog awards sub committee to be set up to vet future suggestions for Freeman.
He added: ‘I would like to challenge the council. The title dates back many many years.
‘We want to ensure nobody receives a freedom of the city award as a result of a right of birth or standing in their community other than earned in the community.’
Councillor Dave Taylor added: ‘The motion has been very carefully worded to avoid any lurid allegations which would be difficult if not impossible to substantiate.
‘However, I subscribe to the point of view that the Duke of York has shown a dreadful lack of judgment in his friendships with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
‘I hope in the future the Monarch might appoint the Princess Beatrice to be Duchess of York. In contrast to his father, she is personable, intelligent and does her homework and reads her briefing paper when visiting the city of York.’
Councillor Denise Craghill, for the Green Group, said: ‘It is highly inappropriate Andrew should retain the freedom of the city.
‘It is highly inconsistent what we stand for as a city and would like the Palace and Government to take action to remove his title as Duke of York.’
The Duke is the first VIP to be stripped of his Freeman status since Jimmy Savile, who had his taken by Scarborough Council in 2011.
The meeting in York had been scheduled to take place virtually last month but the plug was pulled just two hours before it was due to start following objections from Labour councillors.
The decision to cancel the initial meeting caused fury among councillors, but York Council’s Lib Dem Group said the vote would go ahead on the same motion in April.
The spokesman said: ‘The votes taken remotely would have been seen as recommendations and would have had to go to the Chief Operating Officer to be confirmed as decisions.
‘Virtual meetings took place during Covid when the COO agreed with all the recommendations. It is purely because the agenda item on this meeting was very, very political.
‘It was felt it would be better to hold it safely and properly in person once members were ready and healthy enough to attend.
‘Quite a few councillors had recently tested positive for Covid and the real concern was many of them were vulnerable.’
Ahead of the cancelled meeting last month, Darryl Smalley, a Liberal Democrat councillor for York City, told the Independent: ‘York’s unique connection to the crown and the monarch is an important part of our city’s legacy and history.
‘However, as a council and city, we stand with victims of sexual abuse and are doing all we can to end violence against women and girls locally.
‘As such, it is inappropriate that Prince Andrew retains his ambassadorial title that is intrinsically linked to our city.’
Mr Smalley had previously called on Prince Andrew to be stripped of his title.
A survey by York’s daily newspaper The Press found that 88 per cent of its readers want to see the prince’s Duke of York honours taken away from him.
Phil Pinder, a retailer in the famous cathedral city told The York Press in February: ‘York deserves better. He has been stripped of his royal duties; he has done a settlement out of court ending the prospect of any kind of legal clearing of his name so the only option is for him to permanently step down as the Duke of York as well.
‘York deserves another royal to represent it instead.’
He suggested the ‘controversial’ choice of Prince Harry, who lives in the US and holds the Duke of Sussex title.
There are also multiple petitions to remove the Duke of York honour from Prince Andrew.
One with 1,500 signatories says: ‘Not only has ‘Prince’ Andrew demonstrated a lack of morals, lack of humanity and lack of judgement by protracted fraternising with Jeffrey Epstein, his recent interview confirms he lacks the ability to reflect, show insight and learn.
‘Most importantly, it reveals a total lack of caring for others.
‘These are not Yorkshire values. Having him associated with such a proud, fair and straight talking county is contradictory and embarrassing. Remove the title.’
Prince Andrew made his first public appearance since he withdrew from public life following his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, who was found guilty in 2021 of child sex trafficking, at the service for his father Prince Philip.
The shamed royal insisted on accompanying the Queen from Windsor Castle to the thanksgiving event at Westminster Abbey.
The prince in his military finery as he attends Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. He has lost a slew of military titles and patronages over the sex abuse allegations
But to the shock of many in the congregation he then escorted his mother all the way to her front-row position – in full view of the live broadcast cameras. It had been expected that the Dean of Westminster would take the Queen to her seat, with Andrew behind.
It was claimed the Queen ‘personally paid £2m to Virginia Roberts’s charity’ as part of Andrew’s £12m settlement.
‘Stipulation of Dismissal’ documents were filed with a court on March 8, with lawyers on both sides calling for the legal action to be dismissed, indicating the settlement has been paid.
As the order was published, the Treasury confirmed no taxpayer funds were used for either the payment to Virginia Roberts or for the Duke of York’s legal fees.
A freedom of information request asked whether any money from the Sovereign Grant to the Royal Family or any other government money was used. The Treasury insisted: ‘No public money has been used to pay legal or settlement fees.’
The joint order filed with the New York court said each party would pay their own costs and fees.
There were reports the Queen or even Prince Charles contributed to the settlement by paying it or loaning him the money until the sale goes through of a £17million Swiss ski chalet he owns with ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York.
Mrs Roberts had sued Andrew for alleged sexual abuse. She claimed he had sex with her when she was 17 after he was trafficked by his friend, the late billionaire paedophile Epstein.
The duke will make a ‘substantial donation’ to a charity for sex abuse victims set up by Mrs Roberts, now a 38-year-old mother-of-three. He said he now regrets his association with Epstein.
Andrew, who was forced to step down from royal duties and public life as a result of the scandal, previously claimed he had no recollection of meeting Mrs Roberts and has always strongly denied her allegations.
He agreed to the settlement in February.