Queen and Prince Andrew attend church after 'Megxit' bombshell

20 January 2020, 11:32 | Updated: 20 January 2020, 11:36

Prince Andrew and the Queen at church in Sandringham today
Prince Andrew and the Queen at church in Sandringham today. Picture: PA

The Queen has attended a church service at Sandringham alongside Prince Andrew for the first time this year.

The Duke of York was pictured today at church accompanying his mother months after he was forced to step down from royal duties in the wake of a car-crash interview over his friendship with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

They arrived at St Mary the Virgin church in Norfolk to attend a Sunday service.

The Queen, wearing a grey hound's tooth checked dress and matching coat with a grey hat, smiled broadly as she arrived at the church in Hillington.

The Queen announced yesterday that Meghan and Harry would leave the royal fold
The Queen announced yesterday that Meghan and Harry would leave the royal fold. Picture: PA

The Duke of York has not been present at many family events and has only been seen in public a handful of times following the interview in November last year.

It comes just hours after the Queen released a statement announcing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be stripped of their HRH titles as they forge a new ‘financially independent’ life.

Andrew has so-far kept his HRH title.

He reportedly faces changes to his security in the wake of Harry and Meghan's decision to leave the monarchy and split their time between the UK and Canada.

The Evening Standard reported the Home Office is recommending a major downgrade of security for the Queen's second son after a Scotland Yard review.

Harry and Meghan, like Andrew, have personal protection officers from the Metropolitan Police, paid for by taxpayers.

Yesterday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walked away from the monarchy.

The Sussexes announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use HRH and will repay the taxpayers' millions spent on their Berkshire home.

Harry and Meghan said in their statement, issued on their behalf by Buckingham Palace, that under the agreement they understood they were "required" to step back from royal duties

Earning money from lucrative contracts and still remaining active members of the monarchy would have been problematic, and has caused issues for royals who have tried to straddle the two positions in the past.

The deal is a hard "Mexit" for the couple - as the issue has been dubbed by the media - and a source told PA news agency "you can't be half in and half out".

The announcement marks the conclusion of talks about their future with senior members of the family and royal aides.

The Queen issued an emotional statement, saying she recognised the "challenges" they had faced over the past year, and added: "I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

"It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."

The couple's spokeswoman issued a statement on their behalf saying: "As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments.

"They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.

"With the Queen's blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations.

"While they can no longer formally represent the Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty."

The Queen's statement included a personal tribute to the Sussexes with the monarch unusually using the first names of her grandson and his family in a public message.

She said: "Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.

"I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.

"I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family."

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