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UK royal family strips Prince Andrew of royal and military links

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo taken on September 07, 2019 Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, attends a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bruges. (AFP photo)

British Prince Andrew's military links and royal patronages have been removed by the royal family amid sexual accusation against him.

The royal family said on Thursday that Andrew will no longer be known as "His Royal Highness", as the son of Queen Elizabeth lost his latest legal battle with Virginia Giuffre, a woman who alleges she was sexually trafficked to the royal when she was underage.

The move means Andrew will now lose all his royal connections.

"With the queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the queen," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

"The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen."

On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York denied a motion to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit against the Duke of York which accuses him of battering her and intentionally causing her emotional distress while the late financier Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her.

Andrew now could be forced to give evidence at a trial which would start between September and December 2022 if no settlement were reached.

The prince’s lawyers had previously argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed since Giuffre, a US citizen, no longer lives in the US. They had claimed it was, therefore, pointless to exchange evidence until that question is resolved because it could result in the lawsuit's dismissal.

"Ms. Giuffre's complaint is neither 'unintelligible' nor 'vague' nor 'ambiguous,'” US District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in the ruling on Wednesday. "It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse."

According to the BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, Thursday’s move is about the protection of the royal family’s reputation .

"This is likely to do, and is already doing, considerable reputational damage - it's being followed around the world," Witchell said.

Meanwhile, the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic had earlier published an open letter to the queen, which was signed by over 150 veterans calling for Andrew to have his military titles taken away and "if necessary, that he be dishonourably discharged."

They called on Elizabeth to take immediate action since her son had been "uncooperative and less than truthful" about his relationship with Epstein.

"Regardless of the result of Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew, his position in Britain's armed forces is now untenable," the veterans' letter said.

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