Prince Andrew, 60, traditionally takes pride of place next to the Queen on the Buckingham Palace balcony for her Trooping the Colour official birthday celebrations every year. But this year is expected to be very different. While the traditional parade has been cancelled due to coronavirus, a mini military display is due to take place at Windsor Castle on June 13 instead.
Some may wonder whether Windsor-dwelling Royal Family members, including Prince Andrew, may join Queen Elizabeth II (from a distance) for the event.
But one royal commentator has claimed the Duke is likely to be kept out of the public eye for now.
Prince Andrew is said to be the Queen’s ‘favourite’ son but continues to be dogged by the scandal surrounding his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life while awaiting trial for child sex trafficking charges in New York last August.
Prince Andrew addressed his links to Epstein in a TV interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis on Newsnight last November, the fallout from which prompted him to step back “for the foreseeable future.”
READ MORE: How Queen Elizabeth II has turned ‘tough year’ around
The interview was deemed a disaster by royal experts, with former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter describing the exchange as “excruciating”, and prompted charities and organisations linked to the Duke to sever ties with him in their droves.
On November 20 Prince Andrew released an unprecedented statement, announcing the Queen had given her permission for him to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.”
In the statement, he added: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Express.co.uk: “Had the Trooping gone ahead on Horse Guards, as it has in every year except 1955 when it was cancelled due to a rail strike, Prince Andrew, who has stepped down from royal duties would not have attended.
“He has remained Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. However, after his catastrophic interview with Emily Maitlis about his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased sex offender and financier, he has stepped down from royal duties in disgrace.”
Mr Fitzwilliams claims the Queen has turned a “tough year” for the monarchy around and emerged as a “symbol of unity” amid the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “The monarchy had a tough year until relatively recently. During the pandemic, it has become a symbol of national unity which is its main function in a crisis.”
“As the country gradually returns to a form of normality, Andrew should be seen as little as possible.
“If not, he will, at least whilst so many questions regarding his friendship with Epstein remain unanswered, be the focus of attention when he appears and he will continue to be a serious embarrassment for the royal family.”
Prince Andrew is spending lockdown at the Royal Lodge in Great Windsor Park with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, daughter Princess Eugenie, 31, and son-in-law Jack Brooksbank.
His eldest daughter Princess Beatrice, 31, was due to marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on May 29 but the royal wedding was called off amid the pandemic.