Duke of York could retain membership of some clubs despite sex abuse scandal

The Duke of York could retain his honorary membership of a number of clubs despite him being stripped of his patronages, it has emerged.

It comes as dozens of charities and organisations associated with the Duke said they had been left in the dark about the Queen’s decision to remove his patronages and military titles in an attempt to protect the Royal family from the fallout of his sexual abuse case.

Other organisations who have previously awarded the Duke honorary memberships are now facing a decision as to whether they follow the Queen’s example and strip her son of membership, something which is in their remit to do.

The Duke of York’s military titles

The Royal Aero Club (RAeC), of which the Duke is president, refused to disclose whether there were any plans to remove the Duke from the honorary position as a result of the scandal surrounding the allegations levelled against him by Virginia Roberts Giuffre. He has denied her claims.

The RAeC was still displaying his photograph on their website on Friday, with a message  stating: “The Royal Aero Club is immensely proud to have His Royal Highness The Duke of York, KG, as President.”

It told The Telegraph: “The Duke’s Presidency of the RAeC is not a patronage (our Patron is HMTQ). I regret that we are unable to offer any further comment at this time.”

The Royal Aero Club was still displaying the Duke's picture on their website after he had been stripped of his royal patronages

The Royal British Legion’s Inverness branch said it would be discussing the Duke’s life membership at a future meeting, but admitted he might be allowed to retain it.

Bart Lucas, the branch’s chairman said: “His membership will need to be discussed to see what action we will take. He’s an ex-serviceman, which makes the decision more difficult. But it will be for us to decide.”

Among his other memberships are that of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew’s, which faces the embarrassing prospect of the Duke attending future events, such as the 150th edition of the Open this summer.

An R&A official said: “All I can say is that he remains an honorary member, but doesn’t carry out any active duties on behalf of the club.”

Prince Andrew is also likely to remain a member of the South Atlantic Medal Association – which represents those who, like the Duke, served in the Falklands War – with its officials taking the view no action is needed as “he has never been an active member”.

Many charities, trusts and clubs of which the Duke was patron only heard about Thursday’s decision to strip him of such patronages from news reports later that day.

Among those who “fell through the cracks” was the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College, which stands as a permanent memorial to those who died in the South Atlantic campaign in 1982, in which the Duke served as Royal Navy helicopter pilot.

Angela Perry, the secretary to the trustees of the chapel, said: “We weren’t informed of the removal of his patronages. We did not know until we saw it on TV.”

Prince Andrew is a member of the Falklands Islands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College, and served in the war as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot


Also left in the dark were the Staffordshire Regiment Trust and the Friends of the Staffordshire Regiment.

Peter Collins, director of the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, said: “We haven’t received a letter or notification about the decision to strip Prince Andrew of his patronages and we haven’t been told formally about what will happen now in terms of a new royal patron and whether will be given one.”

Organisations previously associated with the Duke are reluctant to openly criticise the Palace for failing to keep them up to date on the status of their patron.

But it is understood many were left feeling concerned at the likely impact of losing their royal patron might have on their work.

Some, including the Royal Commonwealth Golfing Society, were still showing the Duke as their patron on their websites on Friday, the day after he was stripped of his patronages.

As a former member of the armed forces, the Duke retains his current military rank of Vice Admiral, to which he was promoted in line with his still-serving peers on his 55th birthday in 2015.

The Duke was due to be promoted to Admiral on his 60th birthday in 2020, but asked to defer it after stepping back from public duties in 2019.

However, he was so convinced that he would clear his name and return to public life, that he is said to have asked a tailor to start stitching the Admiral’s rank onto his uniform in preparation.

The Duke reportedly told the Queen he wanted to wear the Admiral’s uniform to the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last April, prompting her to eventually declare that no one should wear military dress.

Buckingham Palace would not comment on why organisations were not formally notified of the removal of the Duke’s patronages.

In response to requests from the Telegraph, a source close to the Duke insisted that all of his charities and organisations will all be “proactively contacted” within the coming weeks.

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