Prince Andrew, who had to step down from his royal duties in 2019 due to public uproar surrounding his association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, may have to stop using his royal title as well.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, Andrew may lose his "Duke of York" title if he loses the sex abuse lawsuit filed against him by Epstein's accuser Virginia Guiffre. Royal courtiers have been discussing the steps that need to be taken if the royal, second son of Queen Elizabeth II and ninth in the line of succession to the British throne, is labelled a sexual offender by the US court.

If he loses the case, the 61-year-old would be forced into a form of "internal exile" and will have to cut ties with his remaining charitable links. A source close to the discussions told the outlet, "If he loses the case... what do you do with him? You can't make him resign like you would a normal person but he would be asked to out his dukedom into abeyance."

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson brushed off the report as mere speculation and said they would not comment on an ongoing legal matter. The statement read, "This is speculation and the comments are without foundation."

Meanwhile, senior royal insiders told Mail Online that the palace has "sleepwalked" into the crisis and has been paralysed with indecision over how to handle the scandal. The sources said that the staff was earlier "too scared" to stand up to Andrew as he operated with "impunity" as a member of the British royal family, and believe that the idea that he could still return to his royal duties must be quashed.

A senior former royal adviser said on the condition of anonymity that the "Andrew problem" was a long-running issue for the royal household in general, but they did not know the full extent of his friendship with Epstein and his recently-convicted partner Ghislaine Maxwell. The source said, "Anyone who even dared to offer their professional advice that maybe his way wasn't the right one was met with a decisive 'f*** off out of my office."

Other former royal staff also expressed similar sentiments noting that Andrew acted as if he "didn't have to answer to anyone" and was allowed to "go rogue." "The duke made clear that the only person he answered to was the Queen. He wouldn't take advice from anyone. [He] acted with total impunity and staff were just too scared to stand up to him as a member of the Royal Family. Her Majesty almost always backed him and he fully exploited that," they said.

"There's an element of Buckingham Palace sleepwalking into his whole crisis. Andrew would tell his family that it was all untrue and it would all go away," the insider added.

Prince Andrew's lawyers deny lack of cooperation
Prince Andrew Photo: AFP / JOHN THYS