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The city of York deserves a better champion than Prince Andrew. He must relinquish his title

The city of York deserves a better champion than Prince Andrew. He must relinquish his title
4 min read

He didn’t recall their meeting. Then denial and obfuscation. Then the photo. Then seemingly victim blaming.

This isn’t just Virginia Giuffre’s story, women up and down the land can identify with it. Survivors of sexual violence recant how they are never believed, never see justice. Instead, they live with the scars; tragically some don’t. 

At 17, vulnerable from what Ms. Giuffre says, was a childhood already marred by sexual and physical abuse outside her family, she thought she'd escaped, only to be trafficked into the toxic world of Maxwell and Epstein profited. Across their path came the powerful and privileged, including Andrew.

Writing a cheque and issuing some carefully crafted words doesn’t free you from whatever took place; no line has been drawn, there are still questions.

For people in York, they want answers. Not just who is paying the settlement, but how someone who has held such associations seemingly sought to silence and suppress an exploited woman, could hold the ambassadorial title for our city. 

Andrew should relinquish his title and ask for it never to be used again

This is the city from which Sarah Everard came. The brutal violence that young women experience runs raw. 

York is England’s Human Rights City, where the voices of women and girls’ matter. Where we fight for equality. Where we challenge injustice. 

This is the city which is on a journey to address violence against women and girls. Over the last year we have gathered to talk, learn and act; we are determined to see change. 

The city of York, with its global reputation, does not want a Duke who has fallen short in his ambassadorial role. A poll from York’s daily newspaper The Press, found 88 per cent want his title removed. 

As a first act of self-realisation, it would do no harm for Andrew to listen to these voices, to understand the endemic culture of sexual harassment and violence in the UK and reflect. 

If people speak; it matters. They must be heard. If they call for a title to be removed; it matters. They must be heeded. 

Andrew should relinquish his title and ask for it never to be used again. It would be a simple recognition that people are demanding change. A point to pivot from a chequered past through to a learning pathway. 

Our city has better champions through which to draw global attention. 

I am sure survivors can think of better champions of their cause than a fallen royal. They have voices. They have determination. They have power. Their power isn’t given by family lineage or bought but won through trauma and battles to speak for thousands of others who have walked in their footsteps. 

If he doesn’t act, then Parliament must. In 1798 a title was removed by Parliament, and in 1917, those who fought against Britain were subject to the Deprivation of Titles Act.  

Should such legislation progress, and I note the call from the Conservative MP for Rother Valley, Alex Stafford, Parliament should adopt a process whereby titles associated with geographical locations can be removed. The Queen could have additional powers bestowed upon her to remove a title, or Parliament itself could form a committee to determine such matters.

People from a geographical location associated with a title should also have a say in the determination. Recall petitions have been held when standards have fallen for sitting MPs. Similar processes could inform a final decision, engage similar thresholds, and have the same consequences. 

Before Andrew bows out, he should leave not just his title, but all it beholds, at the city gate.

We will take our pride from the transformation we can now bring to the lives of survivors, as we strive for women and girls to be confident and safe at home, online, at work, college, school, on our streets and across our community.


Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central.

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