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Insight

The Queen’s decision to strip Andrew of his HRH status is a major move for both Andrew and for the House of Windsor


BBC Newsnight

He was the first child born to a reigning Monarch for over a century and yet now, the prince they called Andrew will no longer be styled HRH in any official capacity.

In a short, swift statement on January 13th 2022, The Queen signalled a final walk into the royal wilderness for her second son. The Duke of York has had his military titles and royal patronages removed, a decision communicated in just a handful of words but which, along with the decision to no longer call him HRH, means the end of the road this once hero prince.

The decision to remove those three letters in front of his name is hugely significant. There are many HRHs within British royalty but some are more equal than others. While the style might apply to many, the children of a Monarch are the most royal of all.

Andrew was the first of The Queen’s four children to be born while she reigned. His older brother, destined to inherit the throne, needed letters patent from their grandfather, George VI, to be sure of an HRH at birth. Charles and Anne would have had to have waited to be a prince and princess until their mother took the throne without the actions of their grandpapa in 1948. Andrew was different. He was born HRH The Prince Andrew, second in line to the throne, a position he held for over twenty years.

And so this stripping away of the vestiges of royalty is hugely significant.

There is a personal resonance, too. It’s often been reported that Andrew is The Queen’s favourite child and plenty of commentators have speculated over recent years on the impact this might have on his status as scandal followed and then engulfed him. Now, we know. The Monarch has told her second son to his face that all trappings of royal prestige are gone.

Just 24 hours ago, a US judge ruled that Andrew must face a court in a civil case in which he is accused of sexual assault. Virginia Giuffre alleges that he sexually assaulted her when she was seventeen years old, claims he has always denied. The final words of the brief communication from Buckingham Palace rang loud and clear. They said that the Duke of York ” is defending this case as a private citizen.”

It was the only way forward. The allegations Andrew faces are extremely serious. No one is pretending that, should he end up walking through a courtroom door, the world will have forgotten who he is just because the HRH is gone. But this sharp, swift move by The Queen underlines a distancing of the institution of the Monarchy from what has been an ongoing controversy.

The prince they called Andrew when he was born at Buckingham Palace is now in seclusion in the grounds of Windsor Castle, an HRH no more.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.