Royal Watchers Were Quick To Notice This Prince Andrew Social Media Gaffe

The Duke of York has had a tough year thus far, with insiders even claiming the royals regretted including Prince Andrew in Prince Philip's memorial. The beleaguered prince has been plagued by sexual assault allegations and, after insisting he would go to court to clear his name, Andrew ultimately acquiesced and agreed to pay off accuser Virginia Giuffre instead. As The Guardian reported, the Duke of York will donate an unknown, sizeable sum of money — estimated to be in excess of $10 million — to Giuffre's abuse charity, rather than risk taking the stand and bringing further shame to the royal family.

Giuffre, who was also one of late businessman Jeffrey Epstein's key accusers, alleged that Andrew sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions when she was still a teenager. The duke has maintained his innocence and indeed the out-of-court settlement means he won't be forced to acknowledge guilt in this case. In a statement, Andrew's lawyers claimed he "never intended to malign Ms Giuffre's character" and understood she had "suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks."

As Sky News notes, this is a far cry from his legal team's original stance. They initially claimed Andrew didn't know Giuffre and even suggested she was just looking for money. As the duke promised to fight the case in court, Queen Elizabeth made a concerted effort to distance the monarchy from him, which included stripping Andrew of his official titles. However, royal watchers recently noticed he may not have taken the action to heart.

Prince Andrew was stripped of all royal patronages

As sexual assault allegations swirled around Prince Andrew and he prepared to go to trial, the queen notably took a major step back from her son. In a statement posted to their official site, Buckingham Palace confirmed, "With the Queen's approval and agreement, the Duke of York's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen." They added, "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties." Likewise, the Duke of York was no longer allowed to use His Royal Highness in any official capacity.

As the New York Post confirmed, Queen Elizabeth herself was the one who broke the news to Andrew, after summoning him to Windsor Castle. Photographers caught the disgraced royal looking downbeat as he was driven to meet his mother, who also made it clear Andrew would be fighting the lawsuit as a private citizen, rather than with the might of the monarchy behind him. However, she later reneged on her stance, with insiders claiming the queen is reportedly playing a part in Andrew's settlement after all. As such, the Duke of York may not have been as extricated as we initially thought.

Is the Duke of York still covertly using his royal title?

According to The Daily Mail, a message posted to Prince Andrew's ex-wife Sarah Ferguson's page has caught royal watchers' attention due to the use of his royal title. In a number of posts shared to her account, Andrew reflected back on his time fighting in the Falklands War, at the duchess's urging. Notably, though, the final post was signed off: "written by HRH The Duke of York." The message was hurriedly deleted, but quick-fingered internet users screen-grabbed it.

Andrew has made several mentions of his time fighting for his country, most memorably during the prince's BBC "Newsnight" interview. Per BBC News, Andrew made the infamous claim, "I didn't sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply... it was almost impossible for me to sweat." Andrew used this as proof his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, was lying, because she claimed he had been "profusely sweating" when they met back in 2001. 

Although the duke has been stripped of his royal titles, he remains in line to the throne, as The Independent confirms. Likewise, it's unlikely the queen will strip Andrew of his dukedom, which he received as a wedding present. However, Andrew's future as a royal looks troubled regardless.