Prince Andrew loses position as Freeman of York
YORK, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Prince Andrew was stripped of his status as a Freeman of the City of York on Wednesday over his associations with convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
At an extraordinary meeting of York City Council in the north of England, councilors voted unanimously to withdraw the honor bestowed on him in 1987.
There were two formal abstentions, from the Lord Mayor and the Lord Mayor-Elect.
At the meeting, Liberal Democrat Councilman Darryl Smalley urged members to suppress free speech for the first time in the city’s history.
The sexual abuse allegations made against Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, which he settled out of court in the United States earlier this year, and his associations with Epstein and Maxwell were “incredibly serious and cannot be ignored,” he said at the meeting.
“We believe it is inappropriate for Prince Andrew to retain his title of ambassador,” he said, adding that he should also have his official title, Duke of York, removed.
Green Councilor Denise Craghill said the allegations facing the 62-year-old Duke were “entirely inconsistent with what we stand for as a city”.
His Conservative Party counterpart, Martin Rowley, has said changes should be introduced to ensure no one receives the same award just out of “birthright”.
A member of the public, Gwen Swinburn, called the prince ‘Mr Andrew Windsor’, accusing him of bringing ‘shame and reputational damage wherever he goes, including our town’.
“The motion to withdraw his freedom status does not go far enough. He must be declared persona non grata in York.
References to the ‘Freemen of the City of York’ date back to Anglo-Saxon times and over the centuries they have played a key role in running the city and controlling commerce.
It is now an honorary post.
In the city, members of the public who spoke to AFP largely supported moves to strip the duke of his honorary title.
“I think most people think because of the payment, I think it was clear he was guilty,” said John Neal, 61.
“I think it’s an admission of guilt. So yeah, maybe he’s not found guilty in court, but I think his actions felt that was how most people felt.
“I think the fact that he was removed from his royal duties, I think all of that doesn’t really put him in a good light.”