How Queen Elizabeth II Gave Prince Andrew a Royal Honor After Epstein Scandal Broke

Queen Elizabeth II is facing calls to strip Prince Andrew of an honor she gave him in the aftermath of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

The Duke of York was quietly given the Knight Grand Cross — the highest possible honor for service to the queen — just a month after Virginia Giuffre's claims were first published.

The move was first announced on February 21, 2011, a day after the scandal of Andrew's relationship with Epstein emerged, but before Giuffre's interview.

Now famous images of Andrew walking through Central Park with Epstein in December 2010, were published by the News of the World on February 20, 2011.

A week later the Mail on Sunday published for the first time a photograph of Andrew with his arm around Giuffre taken at the house of the duke's friend Ghislaine Maxwell.

Alongside the image, they ran details of allegations made by Giuffre through the civil courts in America, including that he had sex with her while she was a 17-year-old trafficking victim.

Elizabeth made her son a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order at Windsor Castle and the two took tea together the following month, in late March, 2011.

Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew, Epstein and the Palace, told Newsweek: "Certainly, he should be stripped of the honor if he does not submit to questioning by the DOJ. But I doubt he will be.

"As I understand it, the award is the personal gift of the queen and she is not going to take it away from him. How would that look?"

Andrew was not named, with fanfare, in the queen's Christmas or birthday honors list like the recipients of most royal awards.

Prince Andrew at Manchester Cathedral
Prince Andrew attends a commemoration service at Manchester Cathedral marking the 100th anniversary since the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 2016 in Manchester, England. In 2011 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order by Queen Elizabeth II, after the Jeffrey Epstein scandal broke. Christopher Furlong/Getty

Unlike most knighthoods, MBEs and CBEs, this was not a taxpayer-funded honor and did not require approval from any government minister.

Instead, the Royal Victorian Order is given and funded personally by the queen and he was given the highest of five available ranks, Knight Grand Cross, for "personal service," the Daily Mail reported at the time.

Elizabeth bestowed the honor on her son at Windsor Castle and was driven the short distance from his home there, Royal Lodge, before "the two took tea together," the newspaper reported.

Cawthorne said: "It is more shocking in hindsight. She has stood behind him throughout.

"They were seen going to church even after a disastrous interview. She is obviously happy to lend her support."

The church service was on January 19 this year, after Andrew's disastrous BBC interview in November in which he would not say he regretted his friendship with Epstein.

And it was more than two weeks after the prince was first asked to co-operate with the DOJ investigation into Epstein, with the duke's legal team placing the first approach at January 2.

Cawthorne's book claims that after allegations first broke in 2011 "the palace was keen to deflect attention firmly away from the brewing scandal and quickly organized" the Knight Grand Cross honor to "show Buckingham Palace was closing ranks behind the queen's favorite son."

However, he told Newsweek supporting Andrew was becoming "more dangerous" for Elizabeth as the duke prepares to watch his former close friend Maxwell stand trial.

Cawthorne said: "Andrew is going to be airbrushed out of his father's 100th birthday party so perhaps he won't be allowed this time.

Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II at Church
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew attend church at Hillington in Sandringham on January 19, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. Andrew had to step back from public life in November 2019 over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Chris Jackson/Getty

"It's getting more dangerous for the queen to be seen closely associating herself with her son as we have the Ghislaine Maxwell trial coming up.

"It's going to put the whole thing back in the headlines."

Maxwell denies charges she groomed girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997 and is expected to stand trial in July.

CTV host Elaine Lui, who regularly writes about the royals, told Newsweek: "I think the priority and the most urgent thing would be for Prince Andrew to speak to investigators and the authorities and to talk about the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell situation."