3 Canadian military regiments without royal patron after Prince Andrew stripped of titles

Andrew, the Duke of York, was the honorary colonel-in-chief of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, the Princess Louise Fusiliers and the Queen's York Rangers until the Queen stripped him of his military titles Thursday amid a lawsuit accusing him of sex abuse.

Duke of York's titles returned to Queen amid a lawsuit accusing the prince of sexual abuse

Prince Andrew is seen at the Government House in Victoria in May 2013. Three Canadian regiments have been left without a patron after the Queen on Thursday stripped the Duke of York of all his military titles and royal patronages. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Three Canadian regiments have been left without a patron after the Queen on Thursday stripped Prince Andrew of all his military titles and royal patronages.

The Duke of York was the honorary colonel-in-chief of: the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada, which has its armoury in Cambridge, Ont.; the Princess Louise Fusiliers, based in Halifax; and the Queen's York Rangers, which has armouries in Toronto and Aurora, Ont.

Rideau Hall and a spokesperson for the Canadian Armed Forces have confirmed that those titles have now been "relinquished" by the prince, the Queen's second oldest son.

The move follows a U.S. district judge's refusal Wednesday to dismiss a civil case against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre, who sued him in August, saying she was coerced into sexual encounters with him when she was 17 in 2001 by the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Maxwell was convicted late last year of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada celebrated their 150th anniversary at Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School in Cambridge, Ont., in September 2016. (Max Leighton/ CBC)

Royal expert Richard Berthelsen, a former adviser to past lieutenant-governors and governors general in Canada, says the Queen's decision puts an end to two years of uncertainty for the three regiments.

Private organizations in Canada — including Lakefield College School, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the Maple Bay Yacht Club and the SickKids Foundation — that had once sought the prince's patronage severed their ties with him in 2019 when he stepped aside from all public duties amid the sex trafficking scandal.

But until now, Berthelsen says the military regiments' hands were tied; they could not unilaterally dissociate themselves from Prince Andrew and instead had to wait for his honorary titles to be withdrawn by the Queen or the prince himself.

The armoury used by the fusiliers is seen in Cambridge, Ont. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC)