Last week, after months of mounting public scrutiny over his ties to child-sex–trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew announced in a statement that he would be voluntarily stepping back from public duties. “I have asked Her Majesty,” he said of his decision, “and she has given her permission.” But according to royal briefings, the prince did not surrender his royal duties of his own volition. The Daily Beast reports that he was fired and that his mother was the one to do it.
Prince Andrew’s ties to Epstein have been a liability to the royal family for years: In 2015, one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, claimed in a lawsuit that she had been forced to have sex with the prince on three separate occasions. (Prince Andrew has vehemently and repeatedly denied the allegations against him.) But ever since Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges in July, those close to Epstein have faced renewed scrutiny, including Prince Andrew.
On November 16, the duke of York attempted to distance himself from Epstein in an interview on BBC Newsnight, which backfired after he said he didn’t regret his friendship with Epstein because it was “useful,” and described Epstein, a sex offender, as simply “unbecoming.” In his statement on November 20, Prince Andrew suggested that he decided to resign after realizing his Epstein ties had become “a major disruption to [his] family’s work.”
However, sources now say that Queen Elizabeth summoned Prince Andrew — her purported favorite son — to Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of November 20 and told him to step down. “The bottle of whisky and the pearl-handled revolver were laid out for him,” one source told the Daily Beast. “And they were laid out for him by his mother.”
“Nothing like this has happened in the Queen’s long reign,” Robert Lacey told the Times of London, calling the development “monumental.” But it appears she didn’t make the decision alone. Sources told the Daily Beast and the Times of London that both Prince Charles, Andrew’s older brother, and Prince William helped convince the queen to ax Prince Andrew.
On November 22, The Times of London reported that the duke has been informed that he must move his private office out of Buckingham Palace and clear out his staff — that is, if there are any staffers left. Two weeks ago, Prince Andrew’s publicist quit after he failed to convince the duke that he shouldn’t sit down for an interview with the BBC, and the queen has reportedly fired Prince Andrew’s private secretary.
While Prince Andrew’s royal career may be behind him, the fallout from his associations with Epstein certainly isn’t. Attorneys for Epstein’s accusers are putting pressure on Prince Andrew to speak to FBI investigators about his ties to Epstein, and the Daily Beast reports that “courtiers at Buckingham Palace believe a demand for testimony may be imminent.”
This post has been updated.