What Happens When A Royal Is Stripped Of Their Titles

Per CNN, a U.K. judge has allowed a sexual assault civil lawsuit to proceed against British royal family member Prince Andrew for sex trafficking charges. In response to this recent ruling from the British magistrate, Prince Andrew's mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has stripped her son of his royal titles, patronage, and military affiliations, among other privileges, according to CNBC. The case in question relates to the Duke of York's relationship with infamous financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 while he was incarcerated, as The New York Times reports.

The Prince Andrew situation is just the most recent example from British history of a Windsor family member losing their standing, although each one occurred under very different circumstances. From Prince Henry and Meghan Markle to Princess Diana, and regardless of the reasons why a royal ends up stripped of their titles, the lifestyles and social standings of the disgraced family members were irrevocably changed. Here's a quick look at Windsor family members who lost their royal patronage, and what happened to them once their titles were stripped.

Prince Andrew

Charges against Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, were brought by Virginia Giuffre, alleging she was forced into a sexual relationship with the British royal when she was only 17 years old. She claims she was groomed for the situation by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Maxwell was recently convicted on five of six counts related to these charges, among many others. All charges were brought by young women in the elite social circle maintained by Jeffrey Epstein, allegedly including Prince Andrew himself. Prince Andrew has denied these claims, via AP News.

With a pending sexual assault civil lawsuit in the U.K. courts, the queen relieved her son of his military titles, royal duties, and other advantages enjoyed through life as a member of the English royal family. "With the Queen's approval and agreement, the Duke of York's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen," the royal family stated, according to CNN. "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen."

As a result, Prince Andrew is no longer allowed to use "His Royal Highness" in any royal capacity, nor is he responsible for supporting the queen in her work as head of state, such as receiving visiting political leaders or representing the royal family at official functions and special occasions, per Royal, the palace's official website. In 2019, the queen revoked her son's Sovereign Grant allowance of £249,000 ($340,000) a year, also relating to the Epstein case.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Princess Diana

Next to Prince Andrew, the most high-profile example of a Windsor family member stripped of their titles is probably Princess Diana. As the Mirror reports, Diana lost her titles in the aftermath of her 1996 divorce from Queen Elizabeth's son, Prince Charles, heir to the throne. Although granted £17million ($23 million) and a £350,000 ($480,000) a year allowance for expenses, Diana could no longer use Her Royal Highness, nor did she maintain any claim to the British sovereignty. She was from that point forward referred to simply as Diana, Princess of Wales.

Being no longer allowed to use "Her Royal Highness" may seem insignificant, but a lot hinges on the privilege, according to the Mirror. For example, after losing her titles, Diana would have to curtsy to her husband, sons, and other members of the royal family, and others would no longer be required to bow to her, as was once the case. Princess Charles allegedly urged his mother to take these actions against Diana in light of their divorce, according to the Mirror. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was also not allowed to be referred to as Her Royal Highness following her divorce from Prince Andrew, also in 1996, according to CNN.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Unlike Diana and Andrew, and similar to King Edward VIII, who abdicated the British throne in 1936 to marry his American lover Wallis Simpson (via Brit Royals), Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, had some of their titles and royal duties stripped by the queen following the couple's decision to step away from royal duties and relocate to America. They also voluntarily chose to leave behind several royal privileges related to life at court.

As a consequence, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are no longer "royal highnesses," similar to Prince Andrew and Princess Diana, but now simply referred to as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, according to Deadline. Harry also lost all his royal patronages and honorary military appointments. In the case of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, they decided to have most of these privileges revoked. They also lost the publicly funded security detail while living and working on the North American continent, per CNN. Whenever any member of the royal family loses their title and responsibilities, they revert to the queen for her to reassign to other family members at her sole discretion.