Councillors are scheduled to meet today at 6pm to discuss whether to strip the Queen’s second son of the Freedom of the City of York status. Prince Andrew was given the ambassadorial title during a poignant ceremony held in 1987 – a few months after his marriage with Sarah Ferguson and Her Majesty’s move to bestow upon him the title of Duke of York.
The Freedom of the City is a status normally given to outstanding members of the community, visiting celebrities or dignitaries.
While bearing the title of Freeman is normally considered a major honour, it doesn’t grant any special privileges.
This Council meeting was initially due to take place in March but was postponed after a number of councillors tested positive for COVID-19.
The meeting comes two months after the Duke of York reached an out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre, who had accused him of sexual assault allegedly carried out when she was 17.
Andrew has strenuously denied any wrongdoing since the allegations first emerged, and this settlement did not consist of any admission of guilt.
Court documents filed in New York, where Ms Giuffre had filed her lawsuit against the Duke, stated Andrew would make a “substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights” as part of the agreement reached.
The documents also stated the Queen’s son “regrets his association” with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
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A few weeks prior to the settlement, in January, Prince Andrew’s lawyers had tried to throw out the case.
The day after US Judge Lewis A. Kaplan refused to do so, Buckingham Palace announced the Duke had returned his military and royal patronages to the Queen.
The statement read: “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.
“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Royal sources added Andrew would retain his HRH style but would no longer use it in any official capacity.
The Duke had taken a step back from public duties in November 2019, shortly after his interview with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis was aired.
Following the interview entirely focused on his association with Epstein, the Duke was hit by accusations of failing to show sympathy for the late tycoon’s victims.
In the immediate aftermath, many organisations cut or announced they were to review their ties with the royal.
Prince Andrew was last seen in public last month, when he attended the service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey alongside his relatives, government officials, foreign royals and representatives of some of the late Duke’s patronages.
Prior to the beginning of the poignant event, the Duke travelled with the Queen in a Range Rover from Windsor to Buckingham Palace.
Mother and son then got into the Queen’s Bentley, which dropped them off at a side entrance of the Abbey near Poets’ Corner – an arrangement made for the Queen to cut the distance she would need to walk to get to her seat.
The monarch was spotted walking side by side with her second son before reaching her seat.
After the 45-minute service, the Duke left once again with his mother.
This was the first public event he had taken part in since his settlement with Ms Giuffre.
He last attended a televised event in April last year, when he took part in the funeral service for his father Prince Philip.