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Bells to ring for Prince Andrew’s 60th despite criticism

Bells will ring at Westminster Abbey for Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday tomorrow, after councils were advised that they are no longer have to fly flags to mark the occasion.

Certain royal birthdays, including the Duke of York’s, are traditionally celebrated with bell ringing at the Abbey and this year will be no different, despite the duke’s decision to step back from royal duties following his disastrous interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Abbey bells will chime in central London at 1pm.

A spokesperson for the Abbey said: “Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar answerable to the Sovereign and the bells are rung for the birthdays of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh; their children; and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.”

General view of the London Eye and Westminster Abbey in Westminster, London.
Bells will toll at Westminster Abbey

It came after there appeared to be confusion earlier this month over whether local authorities would be expected to fly the Union flag to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday.

Critics described the celebration as “crass and offensive”, which led Downing Street to say it was looking into the matter.

A 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 February 19.”

Prince Andrew stepped back from public duties in November following controversy over his links to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted paedophile who killed himself while in prison.

Prince Andrew, the Earl of Inverness as he is known in Scotland, during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
The Duke of York has stepped back from royal duties

The royal was heavily criticised following a TV interview which probed his relationship with the billionaire and claims Epstein pressured Virginia Roberts Giuffre, then 17, to have sex with Prince Andrew – allegations he strenuously denies.

Last month prosecutors in America claimed that the prince had provided “zero co-operation” to an inquiry into late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

US attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the FBI had contacted his lawyers but had received no reply.

Buckingham Palace said the prince’s legal team was dealing with the issue.

The palace wouldn’t comment on how the Duke of York would be spending his birthday, simply saying it was a private occasion.

Queen Elizabeth II arriving at St Mary the Virgin, Hillington, Norfolk to attend a Sunday church service. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday January 19, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Sussex Sandringham. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

January 2020: Queen attends church with Andrew

Earlier this month they confirmed that he had asked to defer a military promotion he would have received to mark his birthday.

He was due to be promoted to Admiral on his 60th birthday, in line with a longstanding policy that sees senior royals treated as serving military members.

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But a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the duke had requested to forgo the planned promotion until he is able to fully resume royal duties.

“By convention, the Duke of York would be in line for military promotion on his 60th birthday,” the spokeswoman said.

“Following the decision by His Royal Highness to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, the Duke of York has asked the Ministry of Defence if this promotion might be deferred until such time that His Royal Highness returns to public duty.”

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