Bringing down curtains on the ongoing high voltage drama in the British royal family, Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, was removed from his royal duties after facing severe backlash over his ties with American billionaire pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein.
The decision taken by the British sovereign, keeping in mind the monarchy's best interests, was finalized after a thorough consultation with Prince Charles, presently on a royal tour of New Zealand. Following a lengthy discussion with Prince Charles, the next in line, Queen summoned Andrew to Buckingham Palace and asked him to step down.
Prince Andrew tried to clear his name in BBC interview
Earlier, in a statement issued by the Buckingham Palace, the Duke of York said that it has become clear to him for the last few days that his former association with Jeffrey Epstein has caused major damages to his family's work with many organizations and charities. He further went on to say, "Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."
The scandal gained momentum following the 59-year-old Duke's interview with BBC through which he tried to clear his name from the allegations leveled against him by Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, who claimed that she was forced by Epstein to indulge in sexual encounter with Andrew when she was merely a 17-year-old.
The Duke of York apologized for his association with Jeffrey Epstein
The well-intended move backfired when the Duke not only blatantly denied the allegation but, also failed to show any regret for having close ties with Epstein. In fact, he defended his friendship with the American pedophile terming it as beneficial for the trade relations he maintained as a British trade representative. Following the interview, Andrew failed to garner any public sympathy as he came across as an unsympathetic, arrogant and insensitive person with no remorse at all.
Though, in the statement issued later, the Duke did apologize for his association with Epstein and expressed sympathies to his victims and stated, "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
Andrew will no longer be associated with Royal duties
As far as the Duke's royal duties are concerned, it has been made clear that he would no longer be involved in the working of almost 200 benefactions under him. Andrew would also be removed from the project, Pitch at Palace, initiated by him to help entrepreneurs connect with investors.
Following the scandal, more than 20 major companies and charities, including Barclays, KPMG and the English National Ballet, have distanced themselves from Andrew's charities and the projects that he was promoting. However, it is still unclear whether the Duke, who is eight in the line of succession to the throne would be stripped of his title or not.
Adding further insult to the injury, the Duke would also stop receiving £249,000 Sovereign Grant 'salary' from the Sovereign Grant, a public money fund to finance the work that the royals do on behalf of United Kingdom. He will get a stipulated income from Queen's personal exchequer or his private income if any.
The entire episode brought back memories of 1936 when Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorcee from the US. Social historian Professor Judith Rowbotham, while comparing the developments to the 1936 royal scandal told PA news agency, "There are plenty of parallels there. I'm far from surprised because the Duke of York was ill-advised to undertake the interview."