Prince Andrew stepped down from his royal duties last month, and the Duke of York has not made any public appearances since he attended the Cenotaph memorial on Remembrance Sunday. The resignation placed a question mark over the Duke’s future royal appearances, as although he is no longer undertaking any work on behalf of the Queen, he is still expected to join the Royal Family for private occasions. The Royal Family’s well-loved annual festive tradition of walking to church on Christmas Day could prove to be a thorny issue for the Palace, though, as the prince faces widespread public criticism.
According to the The Times’ royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah, the Duke of York will make his first public appearance since his November resignation at Sandringham.
She wrote earlier this week: “He will join the Queen and the Royal Family for church at Sandringham, where crowds gather every year to see the royals, in what is set to be a litmus test of the public mood on Prince Andrew.”
However, the Palace may avoid having the public coming face-to-face with Andrew on the traditional open-air walk.
This is because last year, the Duke of York sat with the Queen, who is driven to church, instead of joining his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie and the rest of the Royal Family on foot.
In 2018, this was interpreted as Her Majesty’s son supporting the monarch, as Prince Philip decided to stay at home on that occasion.
However, this year, the move could well be interpreted as the Queen showing support for the Duke.
Ms Nikkhah also added that, this year : “Interest in Andrew’s presence may affect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are said to be considering whether to take their children, George, 6, and Charlotte, 4, to the service for the first time.”
The Duke of York’s office at Buckingham Palace told Express.co.uk: “We do not confirm in advance which members of the Royal Family will be with The Queen at Sandringham on Christmas Day.”
Andrew was seen riding to church with Her Majesty at Balmoral earlier this year, in a move that was widely interpreted as a show of support for the prince.
The pictures emerged on Sunday September 15, after the prince had faced scrutiny over his relationship with Epstein, which was intensified with the convicted sex offender’s death in custody in August.
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Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, who spoke with BBC Panorama this month, had also made claims in the media in August and September that implicated Andrew in her abuse.
The Duke’s office released a statement in September that read: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.
“Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
In more recent weeks, the Queen has again made an appearance with Andrew that has been interpreted as a sign of personal support for her son.
Just two days after his royal resignation, Her Majesty was spotted in Windsor on horseback alongside her son as they rode on the Windsor estate.
The Queen and Prince Charles are widely believed to have demanded that the Duke of York to step down from his royal duties, before he made the announcement on November 20.
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