Princess Anne’s first royal visit to York after city voted to remove Prince Andrew honour

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PRINCESS ANNE attended the Freedom of York Parade by 2 Signal Regiment, marking her first royal visit to the city since it ditched Prince Andrew.

The Princess Royal’s visit to York was described as “a unique occasion” by Buckingham Palace. It saw Anne, as the Royal Signals Colonel-in-Chief, take the salute. Her trip came less than a month after councillors unanimously voted to remove her brother’s honorary freedom of the city.

The freedom of York was granted to Andrew in 1987, one year after he married Sarah Ferguson.

On April 27, in the wake of his now settled sexual assault civil case, a 25-minute long meeting partly broke the association between York and the disgraced royal.

Darryl Smalley, the Liberal Democrat councillor who proposed the motion, said he was pleased to have won party-wide support to end the city’s links with the Monarch’s son.

He said: “The honorary freedom of York is the highest honour we, as a city, can bestow on those who represent the very best of York.

“The honour is held by many notable and accomplished people who carry it with pride and responsibly.

Princess Anne

Princess Anne on Thursday attended the Freedom of York Parade by 2 Signal Regiment (Image: Getty)

“Having been stripped of his military roles and royal patronages by the Queen, we believe that it is right to remove all links that Prince Andrew still has with our great city.

“The removal of this honorary title sends the right message that we as a city stand with victims of abuse.”

Councillors also called for Andrew to relinquish his Duke of York title.

Mr Smalley said: “The next logical step is now for Prince Andrew to do the right thing and relinquish his Duke of York title.

“If he fails to do so, the Government and Buckingham Palace must step in to remove his title to finally end Prince Andrew’s connection to York.”

Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre

Virginia Giuffre said said she was coerced into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew in 2001 (Image: PA)

All councillors apart from two — the lord mayor and the lord mayor elect — voted for Andrew to be stripped of the title.

The rank of duke, like other peerages, can only be removed by an act of Parliament, which last happened in 1917.

Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, said the prince was the “first to ever have their freedom removed” by the city and backed calls for his Duke title to be relinquished, too.

It was the latest development in an affair that saw Andrew, 62, agree to pay a multimillion-pound sum with no admission of liability to bring the civil sexual assault case brought by his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, to a close.

Prince Andrew

The sexual abuse allegations forever changed the public’s perception of Andrew (Image: Getty)

Ms Giuffre, 38, said she was coerced into sexual encounters with Andrew in 2001 by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his longtime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell at three different locations – in London, in New York and at Epstein’s private island in the US.

Although the parties settled the case, the agreement is not an admission of guilt from Andrew and he has always strenuously denied the allegations against him.

As part of the settlement, which freed him from a civil trial and from giving evidence under oath or in front of a jury, he vowed to “demonstrate his regret for his association” with Epstein by supporting the “fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims”.

The pair’s settlement letter also stated Prince Andrew “never intended to malign Ms Giuffre’s character”.

At Thursday’s event in York, crowds gathered in Duncombe Place, near York Minster, as the regiment exercised its right to march through the city bearing arms, with bayonets fixed.

The parade started in Deangate and then made its way into Duncombe Place, where the Princess, the second child and only daughter of the Queen, inspected and spoke to the troops.

A Palace spokesperson said: “This is a unique occasion and it is hoped that members of the Armed Forces Community and friends will join in the celebrations, by providing the Officers and Soldiers of 2 Signal Regiment encouragement along the marching route.”

Source: EXPRESS CO UK

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