Queen Elizabeth’s Death Spells Awkward Return to Public Eye for Disgraced, ‘Favourite Son’ Prince Andrew


Disgraced Prince Andrew is making what is expected to be a brief return to the public eye to mourn his mother Queen Elizabeth II, serving as an unwelcome distraction for the grieving royal family. The 62-year-old stood out on Monday as he walked behind the queen’s coffin in Edinburgh, the only child of the late monarch in civilian dress while his siblings Charles, Anne and Edward wore honorary military uniforms.

The father-of-two was banished from public view and stripped of his military titles earlier in the year amid a public outcry over accusations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old girl. His role during 11 days of national mourning is one of several awkward issues for the House of Windsor, which must also contend with a rift between heir to the throne Prince William and his younger brother Harry.

“Andrew, you’re a sick old man!” a heckler shouted as the former Royal Navy helicopter pilot walked in silence behind a hearse carrying Elizabeth II’s body to the 12th-century Cathedral of St Giles in Edinburgh.

Over the weekend, Andrew also joined fellow senior royals in greeting the public outside Balmoral Castle, where the queen died last Thursday, and in receiving her coffin as it arrived in the Scottish capital.

Robert Hazell, a constitutional expert at University College London, said he expected Charles to keep his younger brother in the wilderness, not least because the new king wanted a “slimmed down” royal family. “As a member of the family, as son of the queen, he (Andrew) is understandably mourning his mother,” Hazell told AFP.

“I would be very surprised if there is any role for the Duke of York in the future.”

The role of the divorced former playboy was also a troubling sideshow at a memorial service for his late father, Prince Philip, in March this year. Andrew arrived unexpectedly with the queen in her car and then walked the frail sovereign down the aisle of Westminster Abbey.

Settlement

His exile reflects the serious reputational damage he is seen as having done to the royal family through his friendship and association with the US child sex trafficker and financier Jeffrey Epstein. The queen’s second son was accused of sexual abuse by Virginia Giuffre, who said she was pressured to have sex with him when she was aged 17 after being delivered by Epstein.

Already facing calls to step back from public life, Andrew gave a disastrous interview to the BBC in 2019 in which he offered an unconvincing defence of himself and questioned the authenticity of a photograph showing him with his arm around Giuffre. The queen, long said to view Andrew as her “favourite son”, stripped him of his titles in early 2022, reportedly under pressure from Charles and Prince William.

“Monarchies that have lost public support have disappeared. Any astute monarch is always alive to public opinion and swift to respond,” Hazell explained. “I would expect Charles to be no different from his mother.”

Andrew settled a civil suit filed in the US by Giuffre in February to avoid a trial, reportedly agreeing to a $16-million payout. In June, his long-time friend Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a New York court for sex trafficking on behalf of Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019.

Royal biographer Robert Jobson reported this week that Prince William, who was seen driving Andrew to Balmoral to be by the queen’s bedside in her last hours, was firmly against any return to public life for his uncle. “He should be banished as far as Prince William is concerned,” Jobson wrote.

Once a popular member of the family following his active service during the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982, the one-time trade envoy appears destined for more modest, private responsibilities. He and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who continue to share a home near Windsor Castle, will adopt the queen’s beloved corgi dogs, Muick and Sandy, following the sovereign’s death, his spokesman said at the weekend.

The pets — the latest in a long line of more than 30 of the sandy, short-legged dogs throughout Elizabeth’s reign — were gifted to the queen by the couple in 2021.

(Written by Adam Plowright)

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