The Duke of York appeared to struggle with one of his royal duties yesterday as he made an official visit to Belgium. Prince Andrew spent several seconds trying to hook a wreath on to a stand before an official pointed to the shelf where the tribute was meant to sit. The ceremony then went ahead as planned.
It was the first major overseas appearance for the Duke of York since the suicide of convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, in August 2019. The prince was friends with Jeffrey Epstein and last month issued a statement on their relationship. The Duke of York confirmed he had first met Epstein in 1999, saying ”I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year”. And he repeated his denial of any knowledge of his crimes, adding ‘“at no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction”.
The Duke of York has denied all accusations of wrongdoing for many years, having been heavily scrutinised for his relationship with Epstein.
Prince Andrew appeared tense during his visit to Bruges. He was attending commemorations for the city’s liberation in his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards. Accompanied by Prince Laurent, brother of King Philippe of the Belgians, Andrew inspected a guard of honour in the city’s market square. He also laid a wreath at a statue of King Charles II who formed the Grenadier Guards during his exile in Bruges following the fall of the monarchy after the English Civil War in the 17th century.
Neither the Belgian nor British royal families featured the event on their official Twitter pages. It was included on the feed for the British Royal Family on Instagram.
Just hours after the engagement came to an end, the Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Andrew had flown into a ‘furious rage’ at one of his highly respected aides, with the incident becoming so serious the Prince of Wales later became involved. The alleged fracas occurred a few weeks ago, with Prince Charles learning of the altercation a short time later, asking his brother to apologise. Neither Buckingham Palace or Clarence House have commented on those reports.
The Duke of York is due to visit Northern Ireland in the coming days. However, engagements there have been altered following the controversy over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.