2019 was a pretty rough year for the royal family, and that was in large part because of the scandal that engulfed and consumed Prince Andrew. That scandal came after rumors swirled and were eventually confirmed that Andrew had connections with Jeffrey Epstein.
In the months since Epstein's apparent suicide, Andrew has faced a bevy of consequences for those connections. He stepped away from many of his public-facing duties and lost some of his royal titles on top of that.
All of these losses led some to speculate that the royal family was planning to cut ties with the prince altogether. Now, evidence has emerged that the punishments may be more superficial. Just recently, Prince Andrew made a surprise appearance at the Queen's annual holiday party for the royal staff.
This public appearance suggests that, despite the problems he's brought the family, the Queen is not ready to cut him out altogether. Instead, he's just taking a step back from his more public roles.
According to one royal expert, his attendance is a signal to the public. "The fact that Andrew has turned up to this Christmas event at Buckingham Palace today shows that he is being supported by the rest of the royal family," the expert told The NY Post. "If he had not gone, it would have looked terrible — like he was an outcast from his own relatives."
Even if Andrew has made terrible connections, his family is still obligated to support him.
Andrew's latest round of controversy came in November when he appeared on BBC's Newsnight to tell his side of the story. Although the interview was intended to help him move past the scandal, that was not the effect it ultimately had.
During one exchange, Andrew defended the "convenience" of his relationship with Epstein. It was after that interview that Andrew was forced to take steps back from public life, as organizations began to signal that they no longer wanted to work with him.
Although his issues with Epstein really came to a head this year, Andrew has had scandal around him for years. Epstein and Andrew first met almost two decades ago. In 2001, Virginia Roberts claimed that she was trafficked overseas by Epstein and his partner specifically to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Although Prince Andrew denied the claim at the time, things only got more serious for him and the rest of the royal family as it became clear that these accusations weren't going anywhere.