Prince Andrew reluctantly pulled out of Monday’s Garter Day service at Windsor Castle at the eleventh hour over concerns about the damage his attendance could cause the royal family and amid fears he could be booed by the public.
The duke, who is a Knight of the Garter, was due to attend this afternoon’s service, and his name appeared on the Order of Service, but he was notably absent at the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel. Palace sources said that it was a “family decision” for Andrew not to attend.
Ahead of the event, a Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed, “The Duke of York will attend the investiture and lunch today but will not be part of the procession or service.”
Prince Andrew, who reportedly wants to make a return to public life now that he has settled his court case with Virginia Giuffre, was seen driving to the castle for the private parts of today’s ceremony, including lunch with his mother. He was forced to miss the Platinum Jubilee celebrations after he tested positive for COVID-19 and has not been seen in public since he accompanied the queen to the late Duke of Edinburgh’s Service of Thanksgiving in March.
The queen attended the investiture and lunch but not the service or the procession in another nod to her mobility issues and a scaling down of any official engagements that could cause her to stand for a long period of time or walk any distance.
During the service, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was installed as a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter, the highest accolade the queen can bestow on a female family member. It is, according to friends of Camilla, the one title that the duchess has secretly wanted and was thrilled to receive.
Prince Charles was keen that his wife’s big moment should not be upstaged by his brother, and Vanity Fair has been told that he was particularly resistant to his brother attending the service and does not want Andrew returning to any official engagements.
The situation with the disgraced duke has caused tension behind the scenes as Andrew is said to be keen to resume public duties now that he believes he has cleared his name.
Andrew was stripped of his honorary titles and official duties in January after Giuffre filed a civil court case against him in August 2021, citing allegations of sexual abuse. (Prince Andrew has denied the allegations in the lawsuit.)
While the queen is publicly willing to show support for Andrew and sees her son regularly in private, Charles and Prince William are adamant that the Duke of York cannot return to any public roles for the sake of the reputation of the monarchy.
According to one family source, “There are tensions because the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge want Andrew to be kept away from any public engagements. They do not want him to return to public life, full stop. The Jubilee was such a success and they were all overwhelmed by how well everything went. They want to ride this wave of goodwill, not have Andrew and his scandals overshadowing the good work the rest of the family is doing.”
According to The Sun, Charles and William blocked Andrew from Monday’s ceremony by appealing directly to the queen. Previously, the palace had said Andrew would attend the service because he is a Knight of the Garter, a personal honor bestowed on him by Her Majesty.
The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain, established by King Edward III nearly 700 years ago. The order includes the queen, who is Sovereign of the Garter, several senior members of the royal family, and 24 knights or ladies chosen in recognition of their work. Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the sovereign to honor those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life, or who have served the sovereign personally. Supernumerary, or “Stranger Knights,” are overseas monarchs appointed to the order, and are in addition to the 24 knights or ladies. From 2021, Camilla, Baroness Valerie Amos and Sir Tony Blair were all appointed. The King of Spain and the King of the Netherlands were both installed as members of the Order at the Garter Day Service in 2019.
(Vanity Fair has reached out to Prince Andrew’s representatives for comment.)
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