Councillors vote to remove Andrew’s freedom of York

The motion was agreed unanimously in a meeting at York racecourse.

Dave Higgens
Wednesday 27 April 2022 19:25
Councillors have voted to strip the Duke of York his freedom of the city (/PA)
Councillors have voted to strip the Duke of York his freedom of the city (/PA)

Councillors have voted to strip the Duke of York of his freedom of that city and called for him to have his dukedom removed.

Lib Dem, Labour, Tory, Green and independent councillors came together to vote unanimously for the motion at York Racecourse on Wednesday, with members of the public joining in the chorus of condemnation for the duke.

Many of those who spoke at the 30-minute meeting said they wanted Andrew to relinquish his Duke of York title and remove what Labour councillor Aisling Musson called “his stain of an association with this city”.

They said that, if the duke failed to act, the Queen or the Government should step in a remove the title.

Speaking after the meeting, Lib Dem Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure & communities and proposer of the motion, said: “The Honorary Freedom of York is the highest honour we, as a city, can bestow on those who represent the very best of York. The honour is held by many notable and accomplished people who carry it with pride and responsibly.

Darryl Smalley praised councillors of all parties for backing the motion (Danny Lawson/PA)

“Having been stripped of his military roles and royal patronages by the Queen, we believe that it is right to remove all links that Prince Andrew still has with our great city.

“I was pleased to see councillors of all parties support this motion and make it clear that it is no longer appropriate for Prince Andrew to represent York and its residents.

“The removal of this honorary title sends the right message that we as a city stand with victims of abuse.

“The next logical step is now for Prince Andrew to do the right thing and relinquish his Duke of York title.

“If he fails to do so, the Government and Buckingham Palace must step in to remove his title to finally end Prince Andrew’s connection to York.”

The honorary freedom of the city is bestowed to recognise notable service by local residents, to distinguished people, and to royalty, the council has said.

Other recipients of the honour include the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill, film composer John Barry and actress Dame Judi Dench.

Andrew was given the freedom as a wedding present from York in 1987 and he is the first person ever to have it removed, the meeting was told.

First to speak from the public gallery on Wednesday evening was Gwen Swinburn, who said: “Mr Andrew Windsor is an utter disgrace.

Councillors during a meeting of the York City Council at the York Racecourse (Danny Lawson/PA)

“He brings shame and reputational damage everywhere he goes, including to our city.

“The motion to withdraw his status goes nowhere near far enough. He needs to be be declared persona non grata in York.

“You (councillors) need to be starting whatever process is needed to remove his duke title.”

Ms Musson told the meeting: “We owe it to the people of York, particularly those who have been affected by sexual violence, abuse or human trafficking.

“Our first duty is not to our reputation but to their well-being and protection, and to remove this stain of an association with this city which I’m sure has weighed heavily on their minds.”

Independent councillor Dave Taylor told the meeting he hoped Andrew would be replaced by his daughter, Beatrice, as Duchess of York.

“In contrast to her father, she is personable, intelligent and does her homework, or reads her briefing papers when visiting the City of York,” Mr Taylor said.

Wednesday’s motion was brought following the settlement of Andrew’s sexual assault civil case with Virginia Giuffre.

All councillors voted in favour except the Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor elect who said they were abstaining as was the convention in their office. Lord Mayor Chris Cullwick said this constituted a unanimous decision.

The duke has faced widespread calls for him to give up his Duke of York title, which is one of his last remaining major titles after the Queen stripped him of his honorary military roles and he gave up his HRH style.

Labour MP Rachael Maskell, who represents York Central, has repeatedly said Andrew should give up his association with the city out of respect.

Both Buckingham Palace and a spokesperson for the Duke of York declined to comment.

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