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What does Freedom of the City mean? Why Prince Andrew has been stripped of honour and what it allows you to do

The Freedom of the City honour was once an important role, but now is mainly ceremonial

Prince Andrew could lose another title, after York Council voted to remove the disgraced Prince’s Freedom of the City.

Councillors have said that the Prince should voluntarily give up his title of the Duke of York, branding him as “an utter disgrace” during the meeting.

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In the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against him and his out of court settlement to Virgina Giuffre, the Prince was stripped of his royal titles and patronages by the Queen.

But what does a ‘Freedom of the City’ title mean and how did the Prince get it in the first place? Here’s everything you need to know.

Prince Andrew is set to lose his Duke of York title after a council vote in York

What does Freedom of the City mean?

Freedom of the City is the highest honour a city can give to someone of value in its community.

The award in York goes as far back as 1272, with previous holders being granted special status in the city allowing them privileges including rights of pasture and control of trade.

Nowadays the role is mainly ceremonial, with those holding the title not holding power in the city’s council.

In America, the Freedom of the City award is called the Key of the City, with those who receive it sometimes getting a symbolic key.

What does Freedom of the City allow you to do?

HMS Westminster crew members march in London as part of their “Freedom of the City” honour

Freedom of the City previously gave anyone with the honour special privileges.

According to York council’s website, the ‘Freemen of the City of York,’ once had an important role, but now the honour holds no privileges and is entirely ceremonial.

In the past anyone with the honour held the rights of pasture, control of trade and of city strays, they were also involved in running the city up until 1835.

A military unit or regiment that is granted Freedom of the City used to be able to march throughout the city with “drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed” according to Birmingham council.

However, now any military units that hold the honour celebrate by marching on designated days often called Freedom Parades.

How did Prince Andrew get Freedom of the City honour?

The Prince was given the honour as a wedding present on 23 February 1987.

According to York councillors, he will be the first person to have their Freedom of the City title removed.

Why has Prince Andrew been stripped of his York Title?

York council has voted to strip the Prince of his honour and title in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations from Epstein trafficking victim Virgina Giuffre, and the subsequent out of court settlement.

In February, Prince Andrew settled with Guiffre out of court for an undisclosed amount that is estimated to be £12 million.

The settlement led the Queen to revoke Prince Andrew’s royal titles and patronages and has seen many places and organisations that have ties to the Prince do the same.

Liberal Democrat York city councillor Darryl Smalley who put forward the motion said: “The Honorary Freedom of York is the highest honour we, as a city, can bestow on those who represent the very best of York. The honour is held by many notable and accomplished people who carry it with pride and responsibly.

“Having been stripped of his military roles and royal patronages by the Queen, we believe that it is right to remove all links that Prince Andrew still has with our great city.”