UK government won't fly flags for Prince Andrew's 60th birthday

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties in November. (Getty Images)

Flags will not be flown on government buildings to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday after the Duke of York stepped back from public duties.

Plans for the Duke’s 60th celebrations have been dwindling over the last few weeks, as his mother the Queen reportedly cancelled his birthday bash in favour of a quiet family dinner at Buckingham Palace.

Usually royal birthdays are marked with the Union flag on government buildings, but a Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman said: “Following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, there is no longer a requirement for UK Government buildings to fly the Union flag on Wednesday 19 February.”

Prince Andrew at church with the Queen in January. (Getty Images)

Many government departments have the flag flying everyday, so there may be no difference.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state previously said the flag tribute would be “crass and offensive”.

Liverpool’s Mayor had already decided he would not be raising the flag on their official buildings. Local authorities have discretion on when they fly the flag.

The bells of Westminster Abbey will still ring out for the duke’s birthday, as it’s a royal peculiar, and so falls under the monarch and not the bishop.

The abbey also rings the bells for the Queen’s birthday, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh, their children, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.

The duke also had to defer his promotion to Admiral which would have happened automatically when he reached the landmark age.

Andrew would have been promoted to Admiral on his birthday. (Getty Images)

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said he had requested to forego the planned promotion until he can resume royal duties.

The Duke stepped down from public duties last year over his relationship with convicted sex offender Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019.

The scandal saw charities move to distance themselves from the royal as a series of allegations emerged concerning Andrew and his friendship with Epstein.

It came to a head after a disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis on Newsnight in which he said he did not regret their friendship.

The Duke of York at the Duke of York Champions Trophy. (Press Association)

He has been mostly kept out of the public eye since then, and was only in attendance at the 9.30am service in Sandringham on Christmas Day, dodging the main service at 11am, where Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their debut.

But he was seen at St Mary the Virgin Church in Hillington, close to the Queen’s Sandringham estate, with his mother in mid-January.

It’s thought he has been a particular support to the Queen since the announcement by Prince Harry and Meghan that they want to step back from senior duties.

According to reports, he is expected to celebrate his birthday with former wife Sarah, Duchess of York, who he still shares a home with, and their daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie as well as friends at Windsor Great Park.