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Suffolk councils will not fly the flag to mark Duke of York's 60th birthday

PUBLISHED: 16:30 07 February 2020

Suffolk councils will not be flying the flag to mark the Duke of York's 60th birthday.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk councils will not be flying the flag to mark the Duke of York's 60th birthday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

No Suffolk councils will be flying the Union Flag to mark Prince Andrew's 60th birthday later this month after the government changed its advice sent out last week.

The Government will tell councils they are no longer required to fly flags to mark the Duke of York's 60th birthday after he stepped back from public duties over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA WireThe Government will tell councils they are no longer required to fly flags to mark the Duke of York's 60th birthday after he stepped back from public duties over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Councils do normally fly the flag on the birthday of senior members of the Royal Family, but the reminder sent out by the government caused widespread scorn following the scandal surrounding the Duke of York and his friendship with disgraced tycoon Jeffrey Epstein.

On Thursday it amended this advice, saying that because the Duke had stood back from official duties there was no need to fly the flags.

Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council said they would not be flying the flag on the Duke's birthday, February 19, but West Suffolk Council initially said it did still plan to have the flag flying on civic buildings.

However after checking the advice again it changed this to say it would also not be flying the flag. Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils operate out of Suffolk's Endeavour House headquarters and a spokeswoman pointed out they did not have any flagpoles at their other offices.

Ipswich Council will be flying the Union Flag over the Town Hall - but not in recognition of Prince Andrew: "We fly the flag, alongside the borough flag, every day anyway so it makes no difference to us at all," said a spokesman for the authority.

Buckingham Palace has said the Duke has asked to defer a military promotion to Admiral. He was due to be promoted on his 60th birthday later this month, in line with a longstanding policy that sees senior royals treated as serving military members.

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

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"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."

The Duke stepped down from public duties last year over his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.

His decision comes after the Government announced that councils are no longer required to fly flags to mark the Duke's birthday on February 19.

Downing Street said the matter was being looked into after critics branded the celebration "crass and offensive".

A Government spokesman said: "The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will be advising councils that there is no requirement to fly flags on February 19 following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future."

The decision will also apply to other government buildings.

However, a spokeswoman for Westminster Abbey said the Duke's birthday will still be marked by the traditional ringing of bells.

"Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar 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.

"There are no plans to change these arrangements."

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