As he continues to face a court battle over alleged sexual abuse.
In light of the sex abuse claims made against Prince Andrew, Belfast City Council has announced that it will not fly the union flag on his birthday later this month.
Virginia Giuffre, now 38, has filed a lawsuit against the Duke last year as she claims that he sexually abused her when she was 17. According to Giuffre, she was introduced to the Prince by Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted for sex trafficking and facilitating the late Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of young girls on 29 December.
Refusing to fly the union flag makes a statement. The UK government has a list of designated days when council buildings are encouraged to fly the union flag as a symbol of national unity and pride. These days include Remembrance Day, Patron Saints days, and the birthdays of certain members of the Royal family.
This year, flying the flag on the Duke’s birthday would have been a “seriously retrograde step”, said the Social Democratic and Labour Party’s Dónal Lyons. Speaking to The Independent, the councilor said the city council needed to send a message to the women and girls in Belfast.
While a definitive court ruling on whether or not the Duke did sexually abuse Giuffre is yet to be met, in the meantime, it seems many are erring on the side of caution. For example, the Royal family have stripped him of his Royal titles and he stepped down from Royal duties in November 2019.
This has divided opinion – many agree that he should be stripped of both titles and duties, with others vocal that he should withhold his position as he is “innocent until proven guilty.”
Many have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the move, saying that, by refusing to fly the flag, Belfast Council is showing women and girls that it takes their safety seriously and that their experiences matter.
So, what do you think?