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Why Prince Andrew is losing his military titles, but staying a prince

Writer : Craig Prescott, Lecturer in Legislation, Bangor College

Following fast developments within the sexual abuse lawsuit in opposition to Prince Andrew, Buckingham Palace issued a assertion asserting that Andrew will lose all his remaining patronages and navy titles (reminiscent of Colonel of the Grenadier Guards). Moreover, he’ll not use his HRH (“His Royal Highness”) fashion.

That is an overdue step after Andrew successfully left public life following his disastrous Newsnight interview, the place he unconvincingly tried to deal with the allegations of sexual assault levelled in opposition to him by Virginia Giuffre.

In late 2019, some titles and duties had been suspended “for the forseeable future”, creating the likelihood that Andrew may return to public life sooner or later. Now that the lawsuit in opposition to him is continuing to a trial (until a settlement is reached out of court docket), the palace has determined to take away his titles altogether.

That Prince Andrew won’t ever return to public life is implicit within the palace’s assertion, as all patronages and navy positions will revert again to the Queen. Given the Queen’s age, she’s going to seemingly redistribute them to different members of the royal household.

This resolution is just like the one reached with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex in 2019, once they stepped again from their roles as senior royals. Then, the Queen introduced that her grandson and his spouse would not use the HRH title.

Andrew is now in the identical place, although for fairly completely different causes. Formally, all three retain the HRH title, however won’t use it in official capability. The issue for the Queen is that each Prince Harry and Prince Andrew are entitled to retain the title beneath Letters Patent issued by George V in 1917 (this can be a authorized doc that successfully expresses the desires of the monarch). It might take an extra Letters Patent for a HRH title to be faraway from somebody.

In 1996 this occurred with Diana, Princess of Wales, following her divorce with Prince Charles. This was enormously controversial on the time, however it exhibits that it’s doable for somebody to formally lose their HRH title.

The grand outdated Duke of York

Nonetheless, Andrew has not misplaced every thing. He retains the title of “prince” from delivery, and stays the Duke of York, which is a peerage. Underneath the regulation, each titles and peerages are types of intangible property (incorporeal hereditaments). A common precept of regulation is that property can’t merely be seized from somebody with out prior authorized authorisation. He additionally stays within the line of succession for the throne.

Once more, we’ve to return to 1917, this time to think about the instance of the Titles Deprivation Act. This allowed for peerages and the title of “prince” to be faraway from these “who’ve, in the course of the current warfare, borne arms in opposition to His Majesty or His Allies, or who’ve adhered to His Majesty’s enemies”.

The Duke of Albany, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, and Duke of Brunswick all misplaced their peerages as a result of they had been officers within the German Military in the course of the first world warfare. Equally, for Andrew’s dukedom and title of prince to be eliminated, an act of parliament can be required. That is unlikely to be a precedence for MPs in the mean time.

Prince Andrew and the Queen in formal dress heading to Royal Ascot in an open top carriage
Prince Andrew’s navy titles have been stripped and his patronages returned to the Queen.
Chris Allan / Shutterstock

Seeking to the long run, when Andrew dies, the dukedom will die with him, as he leaves no male inheritor. Historically, the peerage would go to the second eldest son of the monarch (the eldest son turns into Prince of Wales, and the Duke of Cornwall). Maybe when the time comes, Prince Louis might desire one other title to keep away from any affiliation together with his nice uncle.

Andrew additionally retains the place of Councillor of State. Ought to the Queen be unable to fulfil her formal authorized duties resulting from sickness, Councillors of State can fulfil these duties on her behalf. That is supplied for by the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953, which specify that the primary 4 within the line of succession of full age (which on this case is 21 not 18), are appointed as Councillors. That at present means Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew. Two are anticipated to behave collectively, which if required, can be Prince Charles and Prince William. Once more, for this to alter, an act of parliament can be required.

There are different issues with the Regency Acts, making reform extra seemingly within the close to future, particularly when Prince Charles turns into King. This may create the chance to extra completely deal with the place of each Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.

The dukedom and Andrew’s place as a Councillor of State imply that the separation of Prince Andrew from royal life just isn’t totally full, however it’s so far as the Queen can go for now. The remainder is as much as Parliament.


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