SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

British RoyalsFeatures

THE DEBATE: Should Prince Andrew have walked with The Queen into one of the biggest royal events of 2022?

Since Prince Andrew walked alongside his mother into the Service of Thanksgiving for the Duke of Edinburgh, his appearance at the Monarch’s side at one of the highest profile royal events of the year has been the subject of debate. Critics say it’s a seal of approval for a man in the midst of a terrible controversy, others argue that a few minutes of familial support are no one’s business than the royals. Here we debate the big royal question – should Prince Andrew have walked with The Queen on the day the world watched the Windsors as they remembered Prince Philip?

A nightmare for the Royal Family” – Charlie Proctor, Editor-in-Chief

When Prince Andrew failed to be seated at Westminster Abbey even after the arrival of the Prince of Wales and the Cambridge family, I was worried. I messaged my Deputy saying: “I’m nervous Andrew hasn’t arrived yet. If he turns up alongside The Queen, it will be a nightmare.”

Of course, that nightmare became reality. Despite being in public exile following his former friendship with convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, the Duke of York thrust himself to the centre of the story at his own father’s memorial service. The 62-year-old entered the Abbey arm in arm with The Queen after all of the other members of The Royal Family had already taken their seats.

For some time now, Her Majesty has enjoyed the company of a consort at events to accompany her on her travels. At one of her last public engagements before a period of illness, the monarch visited the Irn Bru factory in Scotland alongside Prince William. Other members of The Royal Family have accompanied her on different occasions, as have her loyal Ladies-in-Waiting.

So the mind boggles as to why Prince Andrew was allowed to perform the honour on what will likely be the highest royal engagement of the year. His ill-judged association with Epstein along with his lengthy legal battle with an established victim of sex trafficking has been beyond damaging for ‘Brand Windsor’.

When people talk about The Royal Family, they often have one of two mindsets. They either speak of William and Catherine and how they go about their business, apparently ensuring a bright future for the system of constitutional monarchy. Or they talk about Prince Andrew, a man who has been banished from all of his patronages, honorary military titles, and even his HRH style. And a man who has cost his mother many millions in a lawsuit settlement. The future of the monarchy is not bright, but murky if Andrew is around.

Does the man have no shame? If I was the person who has been through what he has over the past few years, I’d try my very best to remain in the shadows. I’m not for one second suggesting that Andrew should have stayed away from a memorial service honouring the life and legacy of his own father. I am, however, saying he should not have been front and centre, walking in the Abbey alongside The Queen whilst other members of the family watched on, clearly horrified.

It highlights all of the problems The Royal Family has laid bare. Where is Lord Geidt when you need him? I cannot help but feel this situation would have been prevented if senior royal aides were not purged over the past decade.

”A mother holding a son’s hand on a day she needed a hand to hold” – Lydia Starbuck, Associate Editor

I was surprised, my eyebrows raised slightly but then they came back down again. Seeing Prince Andrew walk his mother a few steps through Westminster Abbey at the Service of Thanksgiving for Prince Philip wasn’t on my March royalty bingo card. But I’m not going to make it into my abiding memory of the month or the service, either.

I’ll agree that in this fevered world of post on social media first, think later, it’s given the Royal Family a headache it doesn’t need right now. But the more you think about what actually happened, you have to ask why.

Andrew walked a few steps with his mother and then took his seat. As she left, he joined her for an equally brief exit. But, come the voices of doom, that means she has sanctioned him and all that has gone before with this simple gesture. Really? I need to get me a more interesting life cos I don’t see this brief interlude as a Shakespearean declaration of the future of the Monarchy.

To take these few moments as the final word on Andrew’s disgrace really is a misjudgement. We know how things stand for the Duke of York and this hasn’t changed any of that. The Queen hasn’t disowned her son or sent him into exile. But she has, very publicly, removed his patronages and military associations. She said, most clearly, that he is not wanted as part of her Monarchy. Soon afterwards, courtiers let it be known that his HRH was no longer to be used in public. The Queen was unequivocal. Andrew is an ex-royal.

That didn’t change in the few minutes that he stood at her side at Philip’s memorial. There is a lot of second guessing going on right now, most of it along the lines of a doom laden dissolution of the centuries old Monarchy following a fifty second stroll. Why has she done this, goes the cry. Is she saying all is forgiven? Is she saying there is nothing to forgive? Does this mean he will be at the Jubilee?

The answer to all those questions would be no. The way that Andrew was stripped of his royal roles earlier this year was bruising and irreversible. His humiliation was complete. His public appearances are mostly limited to grainy photos of him driving somewhere near Windsor. The Queen has made her feelings very clear about his royal role. There is none. He is a duke in disgrace. That doesn’t stop him being her son.

Any parent, or carer, or anyone who has ever truly loved another will tell you that the love never changes. It might find disappointment, sadness, anger and frustration sitting next to it in the chambers of a human heart but love remains. In the past weeks, The Queen has told the world, loudly and clearly, of her disappointment in Andrew by removing him so completely from royal life. But does she need to disown him? Of course she doesn’t. This was a service to say thank you for the life, love and dedication of her husband and Andrew’s father. Yes, an open one but that is the paradox of royalty, the personal mixes with the public.

What is the message, really, of this walk, outside the hubris? There was no statement that Andrew will take up duties again, no return of his patronages, no promise that his military posts will be kept on ice just a little longer before being given back. She held his hand on a day when she needed a hand to hold. She didn’t promise him the Crown or move him up the succession. He was with his mother as they mourned again.

Personally, I’m kind of over that already along with the slightly patronising assumption that The Queen is somehow so daft or old or both that he sweet talked her into making him a quasi consort as stage one of some kind of Machiavellian plan to take over the House of Windsor. The Queen is the longest serving head of state in the world and she’s good at it. Keeping her throne for 70 years isn’t just down to keeping on breathing. Her uncle, Edward VIII, was a darling of the media and great at giving the people what they wanted. He was also a disastrous king who lost his throne within a year and almost toppled the Monarchy while he was at it. The Queen has abided and made the Crown as strong as it’s been in years. One walk isn’t going to end that.

No, the optics weren’t great, but The Queen plays the long game, not the social media one. Prince Andrew is out of the royal fold but public flagellation isn’t needed or useful. The Queen has been around long enough to know that a few moments in an historic reign will fade as soon as they have flamed. By June, we’ll all be cheering her again as she celebrates her Jubilee and Andrew will be at home, watching on TV. That’s his role now. Son, yes, but significant – no, and no walk in the world will change that.

About author

Royal Central is the web's leading source for news on the Monarchies of the world.