Prince Andrew misses Windsor Castle procession after ‘family decision’

Reports Prince Charles and Prince William lobbied Queen for Andrew to remain out of public view for event

The Duke of York has been forced to remain out of public view after a “family decision” to exclude him from the traditional Order of the Garter Day procession at Windsor Castle.

The latest snub for the beleaguered Prince Andrew followed reports that both the Prince of Wales and Prince William had lobbied the 96-year-old monarch that it was better he remain behind closed doors for fear of a backlash on one of the key ceremonial events of the royal calendar.

Buckingham Palace sources confirmed a “family decision” meant Andrew was invited only to the lunch and investiture of new members of the ancient order, both of which are held privately. But he was not alongside other members of the royal family who processed from Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel for the Garter Day service.

The Queen, who has mobility issues, also did not join the procession but was present for the lunch and the investiture ceremony.

The decision appeared to be last-minute as Andrew’s name still appeared on one version of a printed order of service, indicating it was originally intended he would take part in the procession. Another version of the order of service, distributed to members of the public outside the chapel, omitted his name.

Prince Charles and Camilla at St George’s Chapel
Prince Charles and Camilla at St George’s Chapel on Monday. Photograph: Tim Rooke/Rex/Shutterstock

Three new members were installed: the Duchess of Cornwall, Valerie Amos and Sir Tony Blair, who was appointed as a knight companion of the order. The honour for Blair resulted in about 100 protesters from Stop the War demonstrating outside the castle precincts ahead of the service, at one point chanting: “Tony Blair, war criminal.”

Garter Day would have been the first time Andrew was seen at a public event since attending the memorial for the Duke of Edinburgh in March when he escorted the Queen.

His absence served to highlight the difficulties the royal family continue to face over what formal role, if any, he can play since his reputation was tarnished by his involvement in a sexual assault civil case brought against him in the US.

It comes amid reports he is seeking a way of returning to public life in some way. The Telegraph reported an unnamed source as saying: “The colonelcy of the Grenadier Guards was his most coveted title and he wants it back. Having remained a counsellor of state, he also believes he should be included at royal and state events.

“Most importantly for him is his status as an HRH and ‘prince of the blood’ and he feels that should be reinstated and his position recognised and respected.”

Andrew was banned from the Buckingham Palace balcony after “careful consideration” by the Queen during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations this month. He was invited to the St Paul’s Cathedral thanksgiving service, but missed it after testing positive for Covid.

He stepped down from public duties after a controversial Newsnight interview about his friendship with the billionaire financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In January he was stripped of his HRH title and military patronages ahead of settling the multimillion-pound civil sexual assault case brought by Virginia Giuffre. She had accused Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and trafficked by Epstein. Andrew has always denied the claims but settled the lawsuit for a reported £12m.

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As a member of the order, an honour bestowed on him by his mother, Andrew would have been entitled to take a prominent part in the procession to St George’s Chapel. But undoubtedly there would have been concerns overreaction to the prince walking in his robes in public, even fears he might be booed by onlookers. The Queen is reported to have asked him to stay out of public sight.

Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty magazine, said: “Clearly, it was the intention he would be there, as he does feature in one of the lists.” He added: “Interesting that the family should need to intervene on something like this and to pull him back, but clearly that’s what it takes.”

About 4,500 spectators within the castle walls watched the colourful procession of garter knights and ladies in their robes of blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvets hats and white ostrich plumes.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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