Prince Andrew will turn 60 later this month, but it sounds like it may be among the more depressing birthdays he's had. First his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, downgraded his party from a big bash to a "small family dinner." Now, per the Guardian, the UK government has informed town councils they don't have to fly the national flag to commemorate the prince's special day, "following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future." Andrew had removed himself from such tasks due to his former association with Jeffrey Epstein and the resulting disastrous PR campaign to clear his name. The latest move came after the Sun published a report noting "fury" over a "ridiculous" email sent by a civil servant to town halls as a friendly reminder to fly the flag for Andrew on Feb. 19.
In fact, the anger was so great that the Independent notes some UK cities had already made the decision on their own to nix the flag-flying, even before the official dispensation came down the pike. "No, we won't be doing that," Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said, while Manchester Council chief Sir Richard Leese noted, "It's a definite no." "This would be wholly inappropriate," added Labour MP Wes Streeting. Before the walking back of the flag mandate, officials had said they were mulling how to deal with "changing circumstances, such as when members of the royal family step back from their duties," a rep for Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells the Guardian. Despite this buzzkill, Andrew can take heart that at least one UK institution will be marking his arrival on Earth: A rep for Westminster Abbey says the prince's birthday will still be greeted by a ringing of its bells. (Read more Prince Andrew stories.)