On April 11, the Duke of York spoke out for the first since he stepped away from public duties after his nuclear BBC interview in Nov. 2019 regarding his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The 61-year-old, the third of Philip and Queen Elizabeth II’s four children, attended church at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Castle along with other members of the royal family.
“I loved him as a father,” Andrew told reporters waiting outside. “He was so calm…He was always someone you could go to and he would always listen.”
“We’ve lost, almost, the grandfather of the nation,” Andrew told well-wishers. “And I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother, who’s feeling it probably more than everybody else.”
Andrew added that the queen, 94, “described it as having left a huge void in her life.”
“But we, the family, the ones that are close to her, are rallying around to make sure we are there to support her,” he noted.
“I understand that the palace was surprised by Prince Andrew speaking to the cameras because, of course, he’s been keeping an incredibly low profile,” he alleged.
The Prince of Wales, 72, is next in line to the throne.
“That said, it was Andrew’s father who died,” Bullen shared. “It was a personal statement from a son about losing his father. So I personally think he should be allowed to speak out. It wasn’t an official role. He attended a private church service and the question was asked to him concerning how he felt about losing his father.”
In Nov. 2019, Andrew announced he was stepping back from public duties “for the foreseeable future” because of his association with the notorious American sex offender.
At the time, Andrew said in a statement that his ties to Epstein had become a “major disruption” to the royal family’s charitable work. The prince also said he was willing to help any law enforcement agency with an investigation.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre previously claimed Epstein arranged for her to have sex with several rich or notable men, including Andrew. Giuffre said she had sex with the prince three times — in London and at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the U.S. Virgin Islands when she was about 18. He has denied the allegations.
“Yes, people were a little bit surprised when Prince Andrew spoke out, but I think that’s slightly unfair,” said Bullen. “I think he should be allowed to speak his truth about his father.”
On Thursday, the queen decided that senior royals must wear civilian clothes to Philip’s funeral, defusing any potential tensions over who would be allowed to don military uniforms.
This means Prince Harry won’t risk being the only member of the royal family not in uniform during Saturday’s funeral for his grandfather, who died on April 9 at age 99.
Members of the royal family often wear uniforms to public events by virtue of their honorary roles with the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. But Harry lost his honorary military titles when he decided to give up frontline royal duties last year.
As a result, protocol suggests that Andrew’s nephew, an army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, may only wear a suit with medals at royal functions, Britain’s Press Association reported.
The decision also sidesteps another potential controversy after reports that Andrew considered wearing an admiral’s uniform to his father’s funeral. Andrew retains his military titles even though he was forced to step away from royal duties.
The funeral is scheduled to take place Saturday at Windsor Castle, with attendance limited to 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.
Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, served in the Royal Navy for 12 years and maintained close ties to the armed forces throughout his life. Military personnel will have a large role in honoring him Saturday despite the attendance limit.
Members of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and the British Army plan to take part in the funeral procession. Philip’s coffin will be carried to St. George’s Chapel on a specially adapted Land Rover, which he designed himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.