Royals' 'dismay and regret' as Andrew takes prominent role with Queen at Philip memorial

30 March 2022, 00:03 | Updated: 30 March 2022, 07:31

Andrew escorted the Queen in Westminster Abbey
Andrew escorted the Queen in Westminster Abbey. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

Royals were left "dismayed" and a "strong sense of regret" has emerged after Prince Andrew took a prominent role with the Queen at Prince Philip's memorial, it has been claimed.

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The Duke of York walked his mother through Westminster Abbey to the front row of pews before leaving her to take up his own seat.

It has sparked questions about why he was so visible after the controversy with Virginia Giuffre, who he reached an out-of-court settlement with after denying her allegations against him. The settlement reportedly reached £12m.

Claims have since emerged about consternation among senior royals about Andrew's prominent role in front of the cameras as the family attended the thanksgiving service for the late Duke of Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Read more: Queen's tears for beloved Philip: Emotional Royals say farewell at service

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One source told the Daily Mail: "There was no suggestion [among the Royal Family] beforehand that he would be supporting her in that way.

"It hadn't been discussed specifically but it was hoped that common sense would intervene. Clearly it didn't. There is dismay. I think people accept that this doesn't look good.”

Andrew had previously kept a low profile while his lawyers and Ms Giuffre's discussed the case.

He vehemently denied the allegations she raised. Later, a letter to a US court said Andrew "regrets his association" with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, the paedophile who took his own life as he awaited trial, and had agreed to make a "substantial donation" to Ms Giuffre's charity.

It was known he would attend the memorial service but by walking the Queen through the abbey he put himself front-and-centre of a key part in the ceremony.

He later left her at the front row to take his own seat, away from her.

Camilla Tominey, LBC presenter and associate editor of The Daily Telegraph, said Prince Andrew's prominent role at the will have "raised eyebrows behind Palace gates".

She told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast she was "surprised" to see the disgraced duke front and centre of the ceremony.

"I don't know if we can begrudge someone the right to go to their father's own memorial service, but he took a more prominent role than was planned," she said.

"If you looked at the order of service it suggested that he would be walking down the aisle to his seat with his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.

"I think there was a degree of consternation behind Palace gates, particularly among courtiers who didn't want him to be so front and centre."

Meanwhile, The Mirror's Kevin Maguire said it "felt like a deliberate rehabilitation" of Prince Andrew.

All eyes were on the Queen during the service, who was previously unable to confirm if she would attend against a background of concerns for her health. It is understood the call on her attending was only made in the morning.

The Mail said the plan was thought to be that the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle, would accompany her. The Queen travelled with Andrew from Windsor, where they have both been living.

But sources said it was unexpected he would then accompany her in the way he did, which has caused "consternation".

The Queen and Prince Charles, sitting together, appeared emotional during the service for Philip, and the heir to the throne was seen wiping his eyes.

Princess Beatrice, Andrew's daughter, had to reach for a tissue and covered her face with an order of service.

"We were lucky to have him for nearly 100 years," said Charles before the service.

Among the tributes, Princess Anne said Philip "treated everybody he met as an individual” and "didn’t make assumptions… people did say that he could be a bit sharp with his wit, but I always felt that he was never cruel… his wit served him well".