There was a sense of relief at Portrush yesterday after Prince Andrew was stripped of his honorary title at the golf club in Antrim Town.
Royal Portrush is one of three golf clubs in Northern Ireland that were dragged into royal scandal when allegations involving the Duke emerged.
The Queen took drastic action to remove her son’s royal patronage on Thursday following her son’s civil sexual assault case.
Prince Andrew now faces court exposure after a judge ruled on Wednesday that Virginia Giuffre’s trial against him could go ahead.
Ms Giuffre is suing Duke in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
She claims that now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein trafficked Andrew to have sex with her when she was 17 years old and a minor under US law.
The Duke has always vehemently denied the allegations.
Prince Andrew’s links to Northern Ireland include his honorary titles at Royal Portrush, Royal Belfast and Royal County Down Golf Club.
He visited Portrush while hosting The Open in 2019 and returned to play the links course later that year.
Duke was a longtime patron of the club and opened his new clubhouse on Bushmills Road in 1999.
Driving into the coastal town, you are struck by the sights of the scenic Royal Portrush Course, before being greeted with a sign marking The Open.
It is an honor for any golf club to host the world’s oldest golf tournament, but the allegations against Prince Andrew have soured any success, despite the utter innocence of the Royal Portrush.
A source close to the three golf clubs said it was a great relief that any strange decision to cut ties with Duke went out of their hands.
While Royal Portrush declined to comment on the issue, most people in the city who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday felt it was right to have Prince Andrew’s link to the club removed. Norman Hillis, the owner of R&J Hillis, said a photo of Andrew was displayed in the clubhouse of Royal Portrush, but it was removed after initial allegations surfaced.
“Buckingham Palace has taken back all his honours, his patronage, his military titles,” said Mr Hillis.
“If you are talking about the club, they are more or less on the same lines.
“The whole situation is bad for the Royal Family, who are, to my mind, at a high point in popularity, but unfortunately with Prince Andrew this whole affair has been a blur and I think the palace has done the right thing. And Royal Portrush has worked correctly…
“I think it simplified the whole thing for Royal Portrush and it’s good from a golf club point of view.”
Francis Crickard felt that Royal Portrush was “probably waiting” to find out what decision the Queen would make before deciding to cut her affiliation with Prince Andrew.
“They really, I’m sure, appreciate being Royal in their title, but they need another royal who’s going to be ‘Royal’ because it’s a shame for Royal Portrush,” she said.
“To remove him, I think it was necessary.
“It became a lot easier for the club with their titles removed.
“It’s important that if a club has a royal connection, that royal connection elevates it rather than shames it. I had to go.”
Joan Neely was not very critical of the Duke and felt that there were two sides to every story.
She said: “I think it’s a little harsh on him. The royal relationship was good for the city but it won’t take anything away from Portrush.
“I was waiting to see what the court would say.”
Others around town were happy to talk about Prince Andrew, but declined to give his name because his personal opinion of the royals could adversely affect his business.
It was a matter of great relief that the protection was removed.
Elsewhere, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council stated that any decision to rename Carrickfergus Street Prince Andrew Way is a matter for elected councillors.
“If action was requested, it would be considered in line with the policies and procedures of the Council,” it added.
The Duke of York pub owner of Belfast in the Cathedral Quarter, Willie Jack, was adamant that the bar would not be renamed because it was named after the famous steamship passenger ship, built by Belfast’s Harland & Wolff and was completed in 1935. ,
“The Duke of York was a great ship to be built and launched in Belfast. It’s just a name and a lot of people call the bar ‘The Duke’ anyway, so by no means do we have an opinion. Whatever It is happening that it will not have any effect on our name change.