‘Protocol has to be binned’: Anger after town halls told to fly Union Jack for Prince Andrew’s birthday

Royal tradition will be followed — despite Queen’s son being mired in teenage sex scandal

Colin Drury
Thursday 06 February 2020 12:27 GMT
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Town halls across the UK have been officially reminded they must fly the Union Jack flag on 19 February, to celebrate Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday.

Politicians and public alike have slammed the Whitehall order, which they say puts protocol before principles.

The prince is not currently performing royal duties amid an ongoing scandal over his friendship with millionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and claims that then-teenager Virginia Roberts was coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew in 2001 and 2002.

He denies the allegation, saying he was at a birthday party at the Woking branch of Pizza Express on one of the nights the pair are said to have slept together.

However, the order is now likely to be withdrawn, after the prime minister’s spokesman described it as “an administrative email about a longstanding policy”.

“I understand that DCMS [the digital, culture and media department] and the royal household are considering how the policy applies for changed circumstances, such as when members of the Royal Family have stepped back from public duties,” the spokesman said - in a clear hint it will be pulled.

The instruction hadt drawn heavy criticism, Labour MP and deputy leadership candidate Ian Murray saying: “This protocol has to be binned given the allegations against the prince.”

“This would be wholly inappropriate. It should be knocked on the head immediately,” added MP Wes Streeting.

Speaking to The Sun, a council source said: “It seems ridiculous. The government doesn’t appear to be noticing what has happened recently, or factoring in the mood of the nation.”

The Queen and Prince Charles held an emergency meeting last week to discuss Prince Andrew but it is not known if they were aware — or endorsed — the reminder to fly the flag.

In the meantime, the scandal itself shows no sign of abating: calls for the prince to travel to the US to talk to investigators from the FBI have only grown since he said in a TV interview he would be willing to do so.

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