Prince Andrew, who has recently been embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, made a surprise appearance at an event hosted by the Queen, weeks after he was dismissed from his formal royal duties and reportedly ordered to relocate his charity away from Buckingham Palace.
Leaked photos that are now circulating online show him leaving the palace grounds after a Christmas soiree hosted by the Queen on Monday, in line with an annual tradition to express gratitude to her Majesty’s palace staffers, about 400 people in total.
The disgraced Duke of York’s visit comes as a bit of a surprise after rumours gained momentum of his rising tensions with other family members, including Prince Charles and the Queen herself, who was reported to have shown him the door after his notorious BBC Newsnight interview.
Nevertheless, according to a royal expert cited by Fabulous Digital, the Duke’s appearance should be viewed as a sign of support from his extended family.
"If he had not gone it would have looked terrible - like he was an outcast from his own relatives", Phil Dampier commented on the soiree guests, adding that the Queen in particular “will have been anxious to show solidarity with her favourite son”.
Prince Andrew was also featured in the Court Circular, the official diary of the royal family, as late as last week, despite him having been dismissed from his royal duties.
After it emerged that Prince Andrew had previously rubbed shoulders with convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and an alleged abuse victim of the financier claimed she had been forced into sex with the prince on three occasions, Andrew shrugged off all the allegations of misconduct in his ill-fated interview with the BBC. He was ripped for failing to express sympathy for Epstein's victims, as well as for choosing to abstain from regretting his ties to the convicted criminal.
Sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein had been under investigation for nearly two years, having previously served a contracted prison term for sex with minors and then being probed over sex trafficking charges. He mysteriously died in his New York cell in August while awaiting trial, with the coroner formally concluding that he had committed suicide.