Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties in November due to his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein

By Stephanie Petit
August 19, 2020 11:06 AM
Advertisement
Karwai Tang/WireImage

The bells at Westminster Abbey will continue to ring for Prince Andrew's birthday.

The royal church in London released their official schedule of bell-ringing days on Tuesday, confirming that Prince Andrew's birthday will be marked with the honor again in February 2021. The past year, there was outcry against the public celebration amid Andrew's November announcement that he was stepping down from public life over the scandal surrounding his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

While flags on government buildings are usually changed to the Union Jack on occasions such as royal birthdays, this tradition did not happen in February.

"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 February 19," the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement.

Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

There are 12 royals whose birthdays are currently marked with bells at Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, their four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — all receive the honor, as does Charles' wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Prince William, Kate Middleton and their three kids — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — complete the list.

Aside from Prince Philip (who has retired from public duty) and the Cambridge children, Prince Andrew is the only non-working royal to have his birthday marked with the bells.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's birthdays are not celebrated with the bells, even before they stepped back from the senior royal roles. Even some working members of the family — including Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra — are not part of Westminster Abbey's schedule.

Prince Andrew, 60, announced in November following a disastrous BBC interview about his ties to Epstein that he would step back from public duty.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support," he said in a statement. "Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."

Prince Andrew’s BBC interview
BBC/Mark Harrison

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

In early June, federal prosecutors in New York also reportedly made a formal request through the U.K. to speak with Prince Andrew as part of their criminal investigation into convicted sex offender Epstein.

Andrew's legal firm, Blackfords LLP, responded to claims that the royal hasn't been cooperative, saying, "The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."