Why Charles Can't Strip Prince Andrew of His Titles Despite Epstein Scandal

The royal has been accused of sexual assault.

With more information being released about Jeffrey Epstein's crimes and connections, Prince Andrew's position in the British royal family is once again being evaluated due to his ties to the deceased convicted sex offender. Andrew stepped down from royal duties amid controversy in 2019, and his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, stripped him of his military titles. But the prince retains his royal titles, begging the question of whether the new monarch, his brother King Charles III, could remove these as well.

RELATED: Why Prince Andrew Wasn't Actually Queen Elizabeth's Favorite Child, Expert Says.

On Wednesday, Jan. 3, court documents regarding Virginia Giuffre's 2015 lawsuit against convicted Epstein associate Ghislane Maxwell were unsealed. As reported by People, these include a claim from Johanna Sjoberg that Andrew grabbed her breast while they were posing for a group photo with Epstein, Giuffre, and Maxwell. According to The Guardian, Buckingham Palace previously called Sjoberg's claim "categorically untrue." In the past, Giuffre accused Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was 17. They settled her lawsuit outside of court in 2022.

Andrew has denied wrongdoing but cited his involvement in the scandal when he officially stepped down. "It has become clear to me over the past few days that my association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support," he said in a statement, as reported by The New York Times. "Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I can step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

Prince Andrew at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England on Christmas Day 2023
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

In 2022, Elizabeth stripped Andrew of his military titles and his patronages in the wake of Giuffre's lawsuit. "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 announced, as reported by People. "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen."

But, while Elizabeth removed Andrew's military titles and he was not longer to be referred to as "His Royal Highness," his titles of Prince and the Duke of York remain. He is also still eighth in the line of succession to the throne. But, as Express reports, Charles does not have the power to remove these titles. Instead, that would have to be done by Parliament, and there is not currently a law in place for the legislative body to do so.

According to Express, Parliament member Rachael Maskell introduced the Removal of Titles Bill in June 2022 that could allow Parliament or the monarch to remove Andrew's titles if it is passed. The publication explains that the bill would have to make it through several more stages of review before that happened.

Similarly, only Parliament can remove someone from the line of succession. Express reports that professor Robert Hazell from University College London explained this in light of Prince Harry stepping down from royal duties in 2020.

"The line of succession is laid down in law, most recently the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which abolished the rule of male primogeniture and introduced gender equality," Hazell said. "The Queen has no power to change the line of succession. Only Parliament can do that, as it did in the 2013 Act. So if Harry were to be removed from the line of succession, it would require legislation through an Act of Parliament." According to Express, the chances of Andrew being removed by this method are low, because it is extremely unlikely that he will ever become monarch.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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