A heckler’s arrest in Scotland on Monday afternoon brought estranged Prince Andrew back into the public eye and cast an uncomfortable shadow over the royal family as it mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The heckler called Prince Andrew a “sick old man” as the disgraced royal walked behind the Queen’s coffin during a solemn procession to St Giles’ Cathedral in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
The appearance was one of Andrew’s rare public appearances since his fall from grace over his friendship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Earlier this year, Prince Andrew settled out of court in a civil lawsuit filed by Virginia Giffer, a victim of Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring when she was 17. She accused Andrew of sexual assault and beating.
Andrew may have joined his siblings last Thursday at the Queen’s Scottish summer residence of Balmoral as they gathered at her bedside before she passed away. But the royal family is keen to draw as little attention to it as possible, says Giselle Bastin, an associate professor and expert on British royals at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
“They don’t want it to be about the feud between William and Harry,” she tells TIME. “They don’t want it to be about Prince Andrew and his potentially shady dealings with Jeffrey Epstein and so on.”
King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward arrive at St. Giles in Edinburgh, Scotland on 12 September 2022.
Samir Hussain—WireImage/Getty Images
Prince Andrew’s future
The palace revoked Prince Andrew’s military titles and royal patronage last January, following Giffer’s allegations of assault. This meant that at the procession in Edinburgh he was the Queen’s only child in civilian clothes. King Charles III, Princess Anne and Prince Edward wore military uniform.
Prince Andrew will be allowed to wear uniform to the Queen’s final vigil at Westminster Hall, but not to the funeral on September 19 or other proceedings. (The Queen’s grandson Harry, who relinquished his royal title and duties in 2020, must also wear civilian clothes to the funeral.)
It marks a departure from the way the Queen has defended her second son’s image in the final months of her reign.
At Prince Philip’s funeral in March 2021, the Queen it is reported ordered no military uniforms to be worn to avoid embarrassment to Prince Andrew. He was also visible during the memorial at Westminster Abbey, accompanying his mother to and from the church – fame widely noted in British Press.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Louis of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on time of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London on June 5, 2022.
Chris Jackson—Getty Images
According to the conservative publication of Great Britain Telegraph, Andrew is reported to have spoken to the Queen in June about restoring his royal status. He also wants his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to become working royals.
Now King Charles III will have to decide whether to finance his disgraced brother. Since leaving the Royal Navy in 2002, Prince Andrew has not held full-time paid work, although he has acted as a British special representative for international trade for 10 years and is receiving £20,000 ($23,000) annual pension.
When Prince Andrew was a working royal, he did as much £250,000 ($292,000) per year. His reinstatement would contradict King Charles III’s long-reported penchant for cutting back the royal family to just a few key members to save costs.
At the Queen’s Platinum anniversaryshe was flanked only by working royals during her appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony—a a stark contrast on stage 20 years ago. Prince Andrew was not there due to a coronavirus infection.
“Who we saw in Queen Elizabeth II’s last appearance on the balcony during her jubilee will be what we see going forward [without her],” says Bastin.
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