The royal family is fighting back.
In a highly unusual move, Prince Andrew issued a public statement on Friday regarding recent rumors that he had been pushing for his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to acquire expanded roles within the British royal family. He also blasted reports that he had requested royal titles for any future husbands of the princesses as a “complete fabrication.”
In a statement released on his official Twitter account and signed with a simple “AY” — the Duke of York’s way of signaling that a tweet was sent directly by him — the royal dad, 56, said he was seeking to clarify recent reports in the British press, including one claim that he is at odds with his older brother (the future king), Prince Charles.
“There is no truth to the story that there could be a split between The Prince of Wales and I over my daughters’ participation as Members of the Royal Family and any continued speculation is pointless,” he said in the statement. “As a father, my wish for my daughters is for them is to be modern working young women, who happen to be members of the Royal Family, and I am delighted to see them building their careers. When they do support the Royal Family in its work this is very much appreciated by my Family and most importantly by those organizations and to those for whom their participation makes such a difference to their lives.”
In an interview with PEOPLE just a few hours earlier on Friday, the princesses’ mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, talked about how proud she and ex-husband Andrew were of their daughters joining Sarah’s Teenage Cancer Trust.
“These are two girls who’ve worked so hard in their own careers and have taken time off today to spread the word on teen cancer, which is so important,” she said.
She also described the flurry of reports about the York family as “bullying.”
“Let’s focus more on this [charity] than tittle -tattle gossip, and incorrect gossip that is taken out of all proportion,” Ferguson told PEOPLE. “I have no qualms about it. Stop bullying. And stop bullying the York family.”
The press release was a surprise move, as the royal family is normally tight-lipped about addressing rumors. However, in the past few weeks, the family has been unusually vocal regarding various rumors — from Prince Harry confirming his romance with Meghan Markle to Prince William addressing a report that he disapproved of Harry’s decision to release that statement.
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Beatrice, 28, and Eugenie, 26, have been repeatedly thrust in the spotlight the past few months. Earlier this week, Eugenie was spotted wearing a ring on her engagement ring finger, sparking rumors that she was engaged. (Ferguson herself told PEOPLE in October that it wasn’t true.) And earlier this summer, Beatrice split from her longtime boyfriend David Clark.
Read Andrew’s statement in its entirety below.
- With reporting by SIMON PERRY