Prince Andrew’s 30-year association with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has ended, after the club confirmed he is no longer an honorary member. The Duke of York informed the R&A of his decision, which should remove the potential for controversy around the 150th Open due to be staged at St Andrews in July.
The R&A, whose corporate wing presides over the Open, informed members of the situation on Friday morning. A spokesperson for the club in Fife said: “I can confirm that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews has received notification that the Duke of York will relinquish his honorary membership. We respect and appreciate his decision.”
The Queen sought to distance the monarchy from Andrew by removing royal patronages – including at a number of prominent UK golf clubs – as the 61-year-old prepares to fight a civil sexual abuse lawsuit brought against him by Virginia Giuffre. A US judge rejected his attempt to have the case against him dismissed. The duke denies sexual assault allegations made against him.
Andrew was the captain of the R&A in 2003 en 2004, which coincided with the club’s 250th anniversary, and has been a regular attendee at the Open. Andrew’s sister, Princess Anne, was given honorary status at the R&A shortly after the club’s 2014 decision to admit female members.
A picture of Andrew driving in as captain remained on the R&A website on Friday morning. An adjacent blurb reads: “A member of the club since 1992, Prince Andrew is the only member of the royal family to have served on committee. He was a member of the Amateur Status Committee from 1999 aan 2003.
“The Prince drove into office on 18 September 2003 and was Captain during the year in which the Club celebrated its 250th anniversary. Describing his feelings towards the role he said, ‘It is an enormous privilege, an honour and a dream come true for me to be invited to become the Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, especially in this, its 250th anniversary year.’
“A painting, specially commissioned by the club to mark its anniversary, shows The Duke of York driving into office. Painted by Anthony Oakshett, it contains over 600 individuals and was completed in 2006.” The status of the portrait following Andrew’s relinquishing of his membership is unknown.