Critics brand order to fly flag for Prince Andrew 'crass and offensive'
6 February 2020, 12:06
An order sent to councils to fly the union jack on the Duke of York's birthday has been deemed "crass and offensive".
An email, seen by The Sun newspaper, has been sent to councils reminding them to fly the flag for Andrew's 60th birthday on February 19.
The message was sent by Matt Stevenson, private secretary to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government permanent secretary Dame Melanie Dawes.
However, critics said that the order should be scrapped because of allegations that Andrew slept with Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Ms Giuffre, previously known as Virginia Roberts, says she and the duke slept together on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, which would make her still a minor under US law.
Andrew, who strenuously denies the allegations, is facing calls to talk to the FBI and US prosecutors.
Republic, a campaign to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state, said councils had "better things to worry about than daft royal protocols".
CEO Graham Smith said: "This is crass and offensive, and that even at the best of times it's nonsense to be flying flags for Andrew's or anyone else's birthday.
"Councils are struggling to provide core services, they have better things to worry about than daft royal protocols.
"And to think we should be celebrating a man who has serious accusations of sexual assault hanging over his head is particularly appalling.
"It's time we ended the whole nonsense of flying flags for royal birthdays.
"It's inappropriate in a democracy and the public aren't interested. I think we'd all rather see councils spend their time and money getting services delivered."
Andrew stepped down from royal public life in November after the fallout from his disastrous Newsnight appearance.
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.