Government buildings will no longer be required to fly the Union flag in honour of Prince Andrew’s birthday on February 19, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said.

The Duke of York, who is turning 60 on Wednesday, stepped back from royal duties last year amid backlash following a disastrous Newsnight interview over claims he had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by his friend Jeffrey Epstein as a teenager.

Downing Street said earlier this month the issue of flying the national flag in tribute was being looked at.

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.’

The decision follows a previous ruling that councils should not have to fly the flag to mark the occasion.



Local authorities have the discretion whether to do so on any given day.

The DCMS announcement is unlikely to have a significant effect as many Government buildings – like UK embassies or Government department offices – already fly the Union flag every day of the year and are expected to continue to do so.

Westminster Abbey’s bells will also still ring out in celebration as it is a Royal Peculiar – a place of worship that falls under the jurisdiction of the monarch rather than a bishop.

The abbey also marks the birthdays of the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, their children, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.

The Duke has continuously denied all the allegations against him. Ms Giuffre claims that she slept with the Andrew in 2001, when she was 17, after spending the evening dancing with him at Tramp nightclub.

She says she was trafficked by Epstein and told to have sex with Andrew by his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Ms Maxwell has also denied any accusations of wrongdoing. Lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents five alleged victims of Epstein, now says she has a sixth client who claims to have seen the prince with Ms Giuffre at Tramp nightclub.

Andrew has been accused by the FBI as offering ‘zero’ cooperation in their inquiry into Epstein’s victims, which he also denies.