Prince Andrew could be 'banned' from royal family's Christmas

·Features and Health Editor
Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York (L) arrives for the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Bangkok on November 3, 2019, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP) (Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Andrew has stepped back from his royal duties. Photo: Getty

Prince Andrew could reportedly be banned from attending the annual Christmas church service with the Queen and other members of the royal family over fears protesters might be present.

The 59-year-old, who was absent from a formal dinner for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen last week, is now likely to also be missing on Christmas Day to ‘avoid further embarrassment’ for the royal family.

Royal advisers want Prince Andrew to skip Christmas

According to The Sun, sex abuse campaigners are planning to infiltrate the monarchist crowds on the day, with sources revealing the Queen is ‘deeply upset’ over the situation.

“There are discussions about Christmas Day and a desire from many courtiers for Prince Andrew to stay away from the church, where he would be pictured with the rest of the family,” a royal source told the publication.

“They know the world’s media would be there and it would end up dominating headlines of the day.”

However, advisers fear the Duke of York will insist upon attending in his private role as a member of the royal family, but hope he decides against it when realising “just how much worse the situation could become”.

Of course he won’t be the only absence this year with Prince Harry and Meghan spending the holidays in the US with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex arriving to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
The royals attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. Photo: Getty

Prince Andrew officially steps down from public duties

Prince Andrew officially stepped down from royal duties for the foreseeable future after being engulfed in the scandal involving convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, denies any allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by his friend Epstein, the financier who killed himself in a US prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The scandal escalated after Andrew's rambling explanations in a disastrous BBC TV interview which aired in November, which left many viewers incredulous, and his apparent lack of compassion for Epstein's victims drew widespread condemnation.

In a statement issued by Buckingham Palace, Andrew said it had become clear to him in recent days that his association with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has become a ‘major distraction’ to the royal family's work.

“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” he said.

The Duke of York leaves his home in Windsor, Berkshire, the day after he suspended his work with his charities, organisations and military units because of the fallout from his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duke of York has been embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal. Photo: Getty

Prince Andrew ‘willing to cooperate’ with law enforcement

Prince Andrew also apologised for his association with Epstein, who died in prison in August in what New York City officials ruled was a suicide. He said he is willing to cooperate with appropriate law enforcement inquiries if required to do so.

He also faces possible subpoenas from women who are suing Epstein's estate who believe Andrew may have valuable testimony about abuse they suffered.

The scandal is one of the worst to grip the royal household in recent decades and has severely tarnished Andrew's reputation.

US law enforcement agencies have not commented publicly on whether Andrew is being investigated for any possible wrongdoing.

Many of the court papers related to the Epstein case are still sealed and unavailable to the public.

British legal experts, meanwhile, are divided over whether Andrew enjoys immunity from prosecution as a senior British royal and the matter has not been tested in court.

With additional reporting by AAP.

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