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Prince Andrew relinquishes R&A membership as he seeks jury trial in Virginia Giuffre sex assault case

Prince Andrew wearing official R&A rainsuit at the 2018 Open Championship.
Prince Andrew wearing official R&A rainsuit at the 2018 Open Championship.

Prince Andrew has “relinquished” his honorary membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

The Prince has been embroiled in a scandal relating to his friendship with the financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

In the last month, Andrew’s bid to block a civil lawsuit by Virginia Guiffre was thrown out by a New York court.

She claims she was sex-trafficked by Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell for the Prince in 2001 – when she was 17.

He categorically denies the allegation and has requested trial by jury.

After Prince Andrew’s bid to block Giuffre’s civil suit failed, the Queen removed his military affiliations and royal patronages.

“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen,” read a statement from Buckingham Palace.

Honorary membership not ‘official’ royal business

Prince Andrew at the Open Championship in 2010.

His honorary membership of the R&A is not regarded as “official” royal business and was not withdrawn in common with the Prince’s other patronages as per the Queen’s decision.

His association with the club was regarded as being in a private capacity.

A spokesperson for club said: “I can confirm that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has received notification that the Duke of York will relinquish his honorary membership. We respect and appreciate his decision.”

Andrew was the most recent in a line of royals who were connected closely with the Royal and Ancient, the most famous golf club in the world.

He served as captain of the club in 2003/04, the sixth royal to do so. His grandfather, King George VI, was captain when he was the Duke of York in 1930.

‘An enormous privilege’

Andrew drives into office as captain of the R&A in September 2003.

Prince Andrew is an avid golfer and at one time had a single figure handicap. He was patron of more than 20 golf clubs and associations. His affiliation with the R&A, however, was easily the most prominent.

His year as captain was also that of the club’s 250th anniversary. The club marked the occasion with a series of lavish celebrations in the summer of 2004.

“It is an enormous privilege, an honour and a dream come true for me to be invited to become the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, especially in this, its 250th anniversary year,” he said on announcement of the appointment.

Originally invited to be a member of the club in 1992, Andrew became the first royal to serve on one of the club’s committees administering golf in throughout the world. He was a member of the club’s amateur status committee from 2000 to 2003.

The Prince was a regular visitor to a great number of major championships and Ryder Cups. He was often seen wearing official R&A club gear on the course.

Club’s historic paintings feature the Prince

The Prince with Tiger Woods at the Dunhill Cup in 1998.

The club has no portrait of the Prince but retains two large paintings commissioned in the year of his captaincy. Both are placed in prominent positions in R&A buildings.

The Prince is featured in the large painting by artist Anthony Oakshett of the 250th anniversary dinner of past captains and members. The painting is hung in the main clubhouse outside the members’ dining room.

An enormous second painting depicts the Prince’s driving-in ceremony as captain and features more than 600 people. Also by Oakshett, the painting hangs in the entrance area to the club’s Forgan House in St Andrews.

The Courier understands the fate of these paintings is under discussion. But given the number of persons depicted and their historic significance, it’s thought unlikely they will be removed.

One of the Prince’s most valued connections with golf was removed in April of 2020. The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy, which staged events throughout the world for Under-18 golfers, was established in 2001. It was discontinued in the fallout from his Epstein connection.

Rory McIlroy and current Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist were among those who cut their teeth in the competition.

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