Prince Andrew to receive birthday honour despite stepping down as royal

Prince Andrew is set to receive a birthday honour despite being in the middle of a controversy surrounding his links with Jeffrey Epstein.

The Queen's son was forced to step back from the royal life over his connection with the paedophile.

However, despite public fury, he will still be given a public honour, according to ExpressOnline.

His birthday will be marked in February 2021 according to Westminster Abbey's official schedule for bell-ringing days.

The abbey has announced it will mark his birthday on February 19 by ringing the bells at 1pm, as is traditional with senior members of the royal family.

Last year there was public outcry at the decision to mark the Prince's birthday after he was forced into effective hiding following the allegations put against him.

The Duke of York marked his 60th birthday in February with a quiet affair with close friends.

There are 12 royals whose birthdays are currently marked with bells at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, their four children – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – all receive the honour, as does Charles' wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

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Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three kids – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – complete the list.

However, other birthday tributes have been halted when it comes to the Duke of York.

Flags on the UK's Government buildings are typically changed to the Union Jack on occasions such as royal birthdays.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein have become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support," he said in a statement.

"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

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Prince Andrew has consistently denied he had any knowledge of Mr Epstein's underage trafficking ring.

His Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis in late 2019 was seen by many as a watershed moment for the Royal Family.

He was accused of showing a lack of empathy for Epstein's victims and of failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier.

Prince Andrew has said he ended his friendship with Mr Epstein before the scandal relating to him came to light.

He told Newsnight: "Ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do?

"Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.

"And I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious, and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it.

"I had to go and see him and talk to him."

He said that during his stay in New York, he told Epstein that it was not "appropriate that we should remain in contact" during a walk in Central Park.

New York federal prosecutors also reportedly formally requested testimony from Prince Andrew as part of the criminal investigation into alleged co-conspirators of Epstein.

Epstein died in prison last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

His ex-girlfriend and longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell was then arrested in July, on multiple charges relating to Epstein’s crimes.

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