The Grenadier Guards greeted the news that Prince Andrew had lost his honorary role as their colonel with ‘three cheers’ for the Queen. After Buckingham Palace announced the decision to strip the Duke of York of his military affiliations, the regiment’s ceremonial commander Roly Walker confirmed the position had ‘returned to Her Majesty with immediate effect’.
Lieutenant General Walker said in an email sent to all troops: ‘I am sure you will offer a personal ‘Three Cheers’ for the colonel, an appointment she first held in 1942, 80 years to the day on February 24 this year.’ Andrew, 61, inherited the role with the Grenadier Guards from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, when he retired from public life in 2017.
The post has huge personal significance for the Royal Family. The prince even took riding lessons so he could lead the regiment on horseback for Trooping the Colour on the Queen’s official birthday. It was one of the positions that he clung to when he first stepped back from official duties in 2019.
But there were repeated reports that officers felt ‘uncomfortable’ at having to drink to Andrew’s health at the end of regimental dinners. Former soldiers spoke out last year over the ‘unsatisfactory’ state of affairs, especially given the added strain of the US court case against the prince brought by Virginia Roberts.
Julian Perreira, a three-time veteran of Afghanistan, said: ‘Being allowed to retain his role as colonel of the Grenadier Guards and other military titles, Prince Andrew will put a stain on the regiment’s proud history. He must step down immediately.’ Lt Gen Walker also said in his email: ‘Buckingham Palace have informed me that in due course the colonelcy, along with the duke’s other titles and affiliations, will be reallocated to another member of the Royal Family.’
He added that he would write to Andrew ‘to thank him for his time as colonel’. Formed in 1656 by King Charles II, the Grenadier Guards have fought in almost every major campaign of the British Army, including the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, First and Second World Wars.
York Racecourse confirmed today it will rebrand one of its most historic events, the Duke of York Stakes, in a bid to distance itself from Andrew. The six-furlong sprint was first staged in 1895 and derives its name from Prince George, Duke of York, who became King George V.
The racecourse’s head of marketing and sponsorship, James Brennan, said: ‘It has never been directly about Prince Andrew. However, we are going to explore how we can make the name a lot clearer about its history – and that the name refers to an entirely different Duke of York.’
Andrew was a patron of the course, and a regular attendee at flagship fixtures, until he relinquished the role in 2019. The prince has now been forced to withdraw entirely from public life in the wake of his association with disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his sex trafficker girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.
Epstein victim Miss Roberts claims she was lent out by the pair and forced to have sex with Andrew three times when she was 17. She is now suing him for rape and sexual assault in a civil court. The prince has always vehemently denied the claims. He was last week forced by the Queen to hand back all his royal privileges in order to fight the US case as a ‘private citizen’.