The Queen informed both Prince Charles and Prince William that it was her ‘final decision’ to arrive at her late husband’s memorial service with disgraced Prince Andrew at her side.
Both royals warned the Queen that being seen so publicly with the shamed Duke of York was inadvisable, given his recent settlement of a sexual abuse lawsuit in the US.
Andrew was sued by Virginia Guiffre over claims he sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions, with the allegations linked to his relationship with dead paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell.
Despite this, Her Majesty ignored the concerns of her family and made the decision to have him escort her down the aisle at the Westminster Abbey service, the Mirror reports.
In a shambolic interview with Emily Maitlis on BBC’s Newsnight, Andrew stated he had never met Ms Giuffre despite being pictured together.
He also disputed her recollection of meeting him on the basis he was once medically incapable of sweating.
Despite all of this, and Andrew only avoiding having to testify in court by paying Giuffre £12million, the Queen decided to have him walk her to Prince Phillip’s memorial service on Tuesday.
She overruled both her heirs to let her disgraced son Andrew have a special role at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service.
The Queen herself made this decision even though Andrew, when under fire for his relationship with dead convicted paedophile Epstein, said that he was “too honorable”.
Both senior royal family members warned her about the optics of such a move “on more than one occasion”.
Both future kings were “absolutely united” against Andrew having a prominent position in the ceremony.
They thought it was “simply unnecessary” for Andrew to position himself as the only person to escort the Queen to church.
But, regardless of their protests, and accusations against Andrew, the 95-year-old told them that it was “her wish” that he chaperone her into the Abbey.
The Duke, who nearly had to testify in court against Giuffre’s accusations, has been accused privately within the royal family of “manipulating” his position, sources have revealed.
Senior royals believe he still harbors ambitions of staging a return to the front line of royal duty, even after the Queen previously banished him from doing so.
This came after allegations in 2001 he sexually assaulted Giuffre, when the 17-year-old was a sex slave of Epstein’s.
Prince Charles and Prince William were left “shocked” and “dismayed” as Andrew emerged front and center at Prince Philip’s memorial service, attended by 1800 guests and streamed live by the BBC.
Due to her recent ill health and increasing frailty, The Queen’s attendance was not confirmed until less than two and a half hours before the 11.30am ceremony.
It was her first major official engagement outside one of her homes for nearly six months. She last appeared to open the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff on October 14.
According to the memorial order of service, Andrew was supposed to arrive with other members of the royal family and his daughters at the West Door.
But he traveled in a Range Rover with the Queen from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace, changed into the State Bentley, then arrived arm-in arm with his mum, before sitting in the front row.
One well placed insider said: “Both the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge reluctantly accepted that he (Prince Andrew) would travel with the Queen to the Abbey as they both live in Windsor.
“It was arguably palatable if simply down to logistics, but it goes without saying that most of the family were absolutely dismayed to see him walking the Queen up the aisle in full view of the entire congregation and broadcast cameras.”
Charles, 73, and William, 39, have previously held private talks on how they deal with Andrew moving forward, both seemingly aware of his wish not to retire.
Sources close to Andrew have suggested he “still believes he has much to offer the family and public service in general”, opening up the possibility he is aiming for a role for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer.
Senior royal sources say that while Charles and William do not want him at official engagements, one insider added: “Ultimately as this episode shows, it’s up to the Queen – and if she wants Andrew there he will be there.”
The possibility means there is scope for Andrew to attend the Jubilee service of thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral on June 3, which will be considered a family occasion.
Joe Little, of Majesty magazine, suggested: “I think he will be there.
“Although the Queen is head of state, she is also head of the family as well and in that capacity all her children should be with her.”
Clarence House today declined to comment on whether the Prince of Wales was supportive of the decision for Andrew to walk alongside the Queen, and Kensington Palace has yet to comment on where the Duke of Cambridge stands on the issue.
Andrew has spent a considerable amount of time with the ailing 95-year-old monarch, who has suffered from a series of health problems in recent months as well as recovering from Covid.
The Duke of York, who lives on the Windsor estate, has also been ever present at his mother’s Windsor Castle home after the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip, who died last April aged 99.
Another source said: “There is definitely a hand being played.
“He (Andrew) was straight out the blocks in front of the cameras when the Duke of Edinburgh died, which was seen within the family as being completely inappropriate.
“Now this situation has unfolded, a fair few hold the view that he (Andrew) is manipulating his position for his own gains.
“The Duke of York’s reputation precedes him and he’s made no secret that he’s not ready to fade away into the background, as much as everyone may want him to.”
A source close to Prince Andrew said: “In his mind the situation with the allegations and the court case is firmly closed.
“There is no case to answer, he settled for the good of the family and that’s that.
“He’s very much of the view that he is a young man and has plenty to offer.
“He’s not going to just sit at home and do nothing until the end of his days.”
Andrew had been banished from royal life, first bowing out of royal duties in 2019 after his disastrous Newsnight appearance.
This January, he was stripped of his honorary military titles and patronages by the Queen, and forced to relinquish using his HRH style amid his legal battle.
Ms Giuffre, now 38, was suing him for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17 after being trafficked by Epstein.
At the time, Buckingham Palace said: “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Andrew remains in the line of succession, and is also still a Counselor of State.
In the event the Queen cannot undertake her official duties as sovereign on a temporary basis due to illness or absence abroad, two or more Counselors of State are appointed by Letters Patent to act in her place.
Buckingham Palace did not comment.
A spokesperson for the Duke of York was unavailable for comment.
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