The Queen sacked her ‘favourite son’ Prince Andrew from Royal duties after discussing the Epstein scandal with Charles and summoning the Duke of York, a well placed source has said.
She took decisive action to contain the fall-out from the duke’s disastrous TV interview about his friendship with a paedophile billionaire.
The interview triggered days of catastrophic headlines and caused a string of businesses and charities to desert him.
Following lengthy discussions with the Prince of Wales, who is touring New Zealand, the Queen summoned Andrew to Buckingham Palace and told him to step down.
The Queen (left, meeting David Attenborough on Tuesday) and Charles (right, with Andrew at St Paul’s Cathedral) decided the Duke of York should step down
Pictured: The Queen put a brave face on today as she met Sir David Attenborough and (right) Princess Eugenie is seen leaving the Elephant Family Charity dinner in London as her father faces the backlash
Last night, a friend of Andrew told The Sun: ‘The Queen summoned the Duke to Buckingham Palace to tell him her decision. It was a devastating moment for both of them. His reputation is in tatters. It is unlikely he will ever perform royal duties again. He is disgraced.’
The source said that the Duke will no longer receive his Sovereign Grant allowance because that funds expenses incurred during official duties. His income from the Queen’s private funds will remain intact.
The devastated prince, who is eighth in line to the throne, was told he could write his own statement in an attempt to allow him to bow out gracefully.
A royal insider said: ‘When the Queen and the Prince of Wales stand firm together they are a pretty formidable combination in terms of getting things done.’
After informing the wider royal family first, Buckingham Palace put out a statement shortly before 6pm on the distraught prince’s behalf saying: ‘I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.’
Pictured, left: Andrew leaves Buckingham Palace after spending the afternoon there behind a desk on Tuesday – the first time he had been seen since his BBC interview. Pictured, right: The Queen puts a brave face on this afternoon as she meets Sir David Attenborough to present him with an award
It is unprecedented for a senior royal to be asked to stand down in this way and illustrates how damaging Andrew’s BBC Newsnight interview was for himself, and the monarchy. The dramatic announcement came just as Andrew was trying to insist that it was business as usual.
The Mail can reveal that he had even planned to fly to Bahrain this Saturday for a Pitch@Palace charity initiative, despite the furore over last Saturday’s television ordeal. In other developments:
- More than 20 major companies and charities – including Barclays, KPMG and the English National Ballet – distanced themselves from Andrew and the initiatives he has been backing;
- A Mail investigation called into question his alibi over a trip to New York during which Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts claims they had sex;
- A letter from Buckingham Palace cast doubt on the Duke of York’s claims about when he first met the tycoon, who killed himself in jail in August;
- Lawyers for Epstein’s victims called for Andrew to sit down with FBI agents and give an in-depth interview under oath.
The 59-year-old prince and his team – led by private secretary Amanda Thirsk – knew speaking publically about the Epstein scandal was a huge gamble.
But they felt backed into a corner following the sex offender’s suicide and repeated claims by Miss Roberts that she was ‘trafficked’ by her abuser to have sex with the Queen’s son on three occasions, the first when she was just 17.
Prince Andrew (pictured during his interview with Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight) is facing a furious backlash over his relationship with Epstein
Mrs Thirsk and her team hoped that by choosing such a formidable interviewer as Emily Maitlis the general public would be convinced of his innocence and honesty.
Instead, millions of viewers were left astonished by Andrew’s attempt to explain his relationship with Epstein, with his interview only adding to the doubts over his account of their time together.
The duke was lambasted for his decision to fly to the US and stay with Epstein for four days after his release from prison for sexual offences against children.
He said he had to tell the financier in person that he could no longer have anything to do with him – it was the ‘honourable’ thing to do.
The duke denies meeting Virginia (left, together in 2001) and suggested this photo could be fake in his extraordinary and explosive BBC interview (pictured, right, Andrew and Epstein in New York after Epstein had finished his prison sentence for sex offences)
He was also roundly criticised for failing to show any remorse for Epstein’s dozens of female victims.
How Duke of York’s annual meetings with Epstein brought decades of trouble
Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell. Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein ‘infrequently’, adding ‘probably no more than only once or twice a year’.
Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.
Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse. Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an ‘orgy’ on his private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park. Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.
The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.
Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: ‘Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
‘I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.’ In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace said the allegations are ‘categorically untrue’. Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.
Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts. The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001. Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having ‘a number of inconsistencies’ and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.
Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is ‘appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes’. Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: ‘At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.’
On November 16, the prince gave a ‘disastrous’ BBC interview in which he spoke about his friendship with Epstein and addressed allegations of his own sexual conduct. He faced a barrage of criticism following his television appearance, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with Epstein’s victims.
During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy. The duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.
The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.
As the backlash grew, supporters of his key public initiatives – such as the entrepreneurial scheme, Pitch@Palace – began to openly withdraw their support.
Several charities of which he was patron also tried to distance themselves from him.
Desperate to move on, officials reiterated their hope that once the dust had settled, the public would see Andrew as an ‘honest, decent and honourable man’.
As revealed by the Mail earlier this week, he was back at his desk at Buckingham palace on Tuesday trying to get on with his work.
But that day he was forced to cancel a trip to South Yorkshire to visit flood-hit towns.
It was then that the Queen decided to take action.
She asked Andrew to come into the palace from his home, Royal Lodge, in Windsor, to see her in between official duties including audiences with ambassadors and a public event with Sir David Attenborough.
An insider told the Mail: ‘There was a very definite feeling that everyone needed to think cool, calm and sensibly. There’s been no sense of fury.
‘The Queen and the senior royals were very much looking at how the furore was impacting on the General Election and on the institution of the monarchy at a deeper level.
‘It’s difficult to think of another time when we have seen more decisive action.
‘The Queen has shown very decisive leadership and the difference is that she is energised by having the Prince of Wales with her.’
In his statement Andrew said he unequivocally regretted his association with Epstein, sympathised with his victims and would help any investigation.
A royal aide confirmed the prince would be temporarily stepping back from his duties. No time period was specified.
He will, however, continue to attend events as a member of the Royal Family such as the Christmas Day service at Sandringham and Trooping the Colour.
As he is not publically funded Andrew receives an undisclosed stipend from the Queen, believed to be in the region of £250,000.
His diminished role is expected to lead to redundancies in his private office.
It is likely that other members of the Royal Family will take on some of the prince’s patronages and charitable duties.
It comes after the Duke was today seen for the first time since his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis on Saturday about Epstein which caused a furious public backlash.
He was forced to cancel a visit to the flood-hit towns of Fishlake and Stainforth, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, yesterday. A source said his trip – which was not publicised in advance – was scrapped as a result of the fall-out.
The Duke had told Maitlis in his appearance that he did not have sex with Virginia Roberts, who says she slept with him when she was 17.
Ms Roberts, now Mrs Giuffre, was trafficked by Epstein and picture shows the prince stood with her in 2001.
Prince Andrew told Maitlis he had met Epstein through the since-disgraced financier’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, ‘back in 1999’, and it has been suggested that it is her London house in which he was pictured with Roberts.
But a letter written to The Times newspaper in March 2011 by the Duke’s then-private secretary Alastair Watson suggests he may have met Epstein years earlier.
Major Watson, who spent nine years in the role of Andrew’s private secretary, was writing to the newspaper countering claims the duke was friends with Saif Gaddafi.
But, in a now key passage, he wrote: ‘There has been widespread comment on the duke’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
‘The duke has known Mr Epstein since being introduced to him in the early 1990s.
‘The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the duke are without foundation.’
The duke denied he slept with Ms Roberts on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.
The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.
He cast doubt on the authenticity of the picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when she was teenager.
Five multi-million pound businesses have cut ties with Prince Andrew’s Dragons’ Den-inspired charity and three more are now considering dumping the crisis-hit Royal since the interview aired.
The University of Huddersfield is the only organisation to vocally back their Chancellor – but this has sparked insurrection among students who are lobbying Andrew to resign with a ‘Not my Chancellor’ campaign on campus and a major vote later this week.
And London Metropolitan University told MailOnline this afternoon they will review whether to keep Andrew as a patron at its next Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, November 26.
This isn’t a short-term solution. It’s early retirement: Queen’s biographer ROBERT HARDMAN predicts a bleak future for Prince Andrew
By Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail
As Tuesday night’s televised election debate unfolded, there was mounting dismay at Buckingham Palace – and on the other side of the world.
At issue was not the responses to the question of whether the monarchy was fit for purpose, though it was telling that Jeremy Corbyn‘s answer – ‘needs a bit of improvement’ – got a much warmer studio reaction than Boris Johnson‘s line about the monarchy being ‘beyond reproach’.
What really set off alarms across the Royal Household – and in Auckland, where the Prince of Wales was continuing his tour of New Zealand – was the simple fact that the monarchy was surfacing as a general election issue at all.
Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew attend Ladies Day at Royal Ascot in June
Throughout the Queen’s reign, it has been a cast-iron rule that the Royal Family keep their heads down during election campaigns.
They can go about their business but they must avoid making headlines until the polls have closed and a winner can be summoned to the Palace.
That is how democracy works under a constitutional monarchy.
It is the reason why the Queen apologised to the then prime minister, John Major, when the breakdown of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of York gatecrashed the general election campaign in 1992 – the year the Queen called her ‘annus horribilis’.
Some Labour campaigners still cite all that deflected media coverage as a factor in Neil Kinnock’s narrow defeat. That, however, was nothing compared to the detonation after Saturday night’s BBC2 Newsnight interview in which the Duke of York attempted to explain his friendship with a convicted paedophile – and precipitated one of the gravest royal crises of the Queen’s reign.
As a result, the election has now been relegated to the ‘…and in other news’ section of most bulletins. Tuesday’s Johnson v Corbyn ITV debate simply brought matters to a head.
The headlines had been dreadful for days. The corrosive effect of sponsors – including the royal accountants, KPMG – abandoning the duke’s cherished Pitch@Palace business initiative was just the start.
Far more wounding was the news that certain royal patronages were considering cutting their royal links.
As Tuesday night’s televised election debate unfolded, there was mounting dismay at Buckingham Palace, writes Robert Hardman
It is patronages that underpin the royal role of those members of the Royal Family who are not in the direct line of succession. For the duke, they were his entire raison d’etre.
I understand that there was particular dismay when it emerged that the list of wavering charities included the Outward Bound Trust.
This was a much-loved patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh, a stalwart of the organisation since 1953, the year of the Coronation. On Prince Philip’s watch, the trust has expanded to more than 30 countries.
The Duke of York became involved 20 years ago as chair of the trustees and succeeded his father as patron eight months ago. His daughter, Princess Beatrice, sits on the board. For a charity so close to royal hearts to consider severing its royal links was profoundly worrying.
Tuesday’s election debate, then, was the final straw. Although the Duke of York’s statement suggests that his retreat from the public stage has been his own idea, the decision had already been reached in telephone discussions between the Queen and the Prince of Wales.
It has been reported that the 93-year-old monarch had ‘approved’ of the Newsnight interview – the duke said as much to the Newsnight team.
It has also been reported that the Queen had been assured by him afterwards that the interview had been a great success. The reality, I understand, is somewhat different.
It has been reported that the 93-year-old monarch had ‘approved’ of Andrew’s Newsnight interview – the duke said as much to the Newsnight team
Palace officials have made clear that while the Queen was made ‘aware’ of the impending interview, she did not approve it. By then, it was too late.
Who is the Duke of York and what will happen to him after he stepped down over Epstein?
The Duke of York, born Prince Andrew, is the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s second son and third child.
He was married to Sarah, Duchess of York, before they divorced in the 1990s, and is the father of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Andrew, 59, is eighth in line. He was born second in line in 1960. The duke faced criticism over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
He stayed with Epstein in 2010 following the disgraced financier’s release from jail – and quit as the UK trade envoy in 2011 when this visit became public.
One of Epstein’s victims Virginia Giuffre alleges the duke slept with her on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage. He strenuously denies this.
Epstein killed himself in August after being charged with sex trafficking.
Andrew is expected to retain his official residence at Buckingham Palace. His private home is Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
The duke is still a senior member of the royal family and will be given police protection by taxpayers.
His private life will continue to be financed privately by the Queen as it currently is. He also receives a Royal Navy pension.
The duke’s office at Buckingham Palace is also paid for by the monarch from her private Duchy of Lancaster income, which is also used for any expenses he incurred from official duties.
Official royal travel came from taxpayers via the Sovereign Grant.
He will keep his title of HRH the Duke of York.
His statement referred to stepping back for the ‘foreseeable future’. But it is difficult to see how he could rebuild his reputation and return to royal duties.
With the duke no longer taking part in royal duties, his drive for his daughters to have public roles is likely to diminish or fall by the wayside.
The Yorks had been looking forward to another wedding in the family. Beatrice is set to marry property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi next year.
It is not known whether Beatrice will opt for a high-profile occasion like her sister Eugenie, or whether the current situation will impact her decision.
As for Prince Charles, he knew nothing about it. ‘Don’t imagine that she is fooled by any of this,’ says one insider.
During the fallout which has followed, the monarch and the heir to the throne have been in close two-way communication about the potential damage to the institution.
I also understand that the Duke of Cambridge has been more than a mere spectator.
‘Don’t forget he has a long-term stake in this too,’ says one friend of the family.
It will have been immensely painful for the Queen to thrash this all out with the Duke of York during the meeting in her study at Buckingham Palace yesterday. But neither she nor he had any choice.
In as much as a member of the Royal Family can resign, that was the only course left open to him.
The duke will still be welcome at anything constituting a ‘family’ occasion – including appearances on the Palace balcony.
We can expect to see him with other members of the family walking to church on Christmas Day.
However, there can be no further solo engagements.
Nor will he be expected at next month’s Palace reception for Nato heads of state.
Regular interaction with his 230 charities and military units will now cease. These patronages are now ‘mothballed’.
He is not abandoning them. Nor will these charities feel obliged to abandon him or remove him from the letterhead.
Despite the noise of recent days, many of these organisations remain loyal and supportive of a patron who has been a diligent supporter of their work over many years.
On the basis that everyone is innocent until proved guilty, some will simply leave things as they are and see how events unfold.
What is clear, however, is that this is not a short-term solution while things ‘die down’.
Until there is some sort of legal resolution, this is early retirement.
Palace officials understand the importance of getting a grip – and of being seen to get a grip – on the helm after the most turbulent royal year in more than two decades.
Quite apart from family dramas – notably the obvious unhappiness of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in adapting to their new royal roles – the Queen has been embroiled in a serious constitutional crisis in recent months.
The ease with which the Queen was prevailed upon to grant an illegal prorogation of Parliament while at Balmoral in September left the monarchy looking ineffectual.
Though the monarch was, of course, constitutionally obliged to abide by Boris Johnson’s formal request, some legal experts have suggested that, in years gone by, the Royal Household would have put up more of a fight and asked more questions.
I understand that No 10 has had no involvement in the Queen’s decision to grant ‘permission’ for the duke to step aside from public duties.
And after the events of recent months, the Queen will be in no hurry to seek the Prime Minister’s advice on the matter, either. ‘This decision has been entirely internal,’ says one source.
However, once the election is over and the future occupancy of No 10 has been resolved, the Queen will feel obliged, once again, to apologise for the fact that a member of the family has shunted an election off the front pages.
That it was the same member of the family as last time, 27 years ago, will not be lost on anyone.