Prince Andrew made a surprise return to royal life on Saturday night.
Offering his support during what was officially a private visit, the prince was accompanied by ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, and eldest daughter Princess Beatrice and her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who are set to wed at St. James’s Palace in London on May 29.
Liu Xiaoming tweeted shortly after the visit that Andrew had delivered a message of sympathy to the Chinese people from Queen Elizabeth over their struggles to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
“Her Majesty The Queen sent an encouraging message to President Xi and Chinese people: At the critical time of fighting #coronavirus, I express my sincere sympathy for Chinese people, and pray for the speedy control and victory over the virus,” Liu Xiaoming tweeted alongside pictures of him meeting Andrew and his family.
“My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year,” he added.
My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year. Their enthusiasm for China and contribution to China-UK relation is highly appreciated. pic.twitter.com/RXw6Zumsnp— Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) February 8, 2020
A royal source says that in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, it would be surprising if Andrew and his family had not passed on some good wishes to the ambassador, but that an official comment has not been made by Buckingham Palace.
This is the first time that Andrew has been seen on an outing of this caliber since his bombshell interview with BBC Newsnight host Emily Maitlis — even if it was officially carried out in a private capacity.
On January 28, lawyers representing some of the women who allege they were abused by Epstein — who died by suicide in a New York City jail in August — publicly urged the prince to cooperate with U.S. investigators after it was revealed that he had provided “zero cooperation” to federal prosecutors and the FBI.
This is despite Andrew claiming in the disastrous BBC interview that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.”
Lisa Bloom, the attorney representing five of Epstein’s accusers, told BBC Newsnight, “I’m glad that Geoffrey Berman has gone public to try to embarrass Prince Andrew, who made one statement and then behind closed doors is doing something very different.”
Last week it also emerged that with Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday approaching on February 19th, councils across the U.K. have been forced to reconsider their flag-flying policy.
“We are working with the Royal Household to consider how flag-flying policy can be applied in changing circumstances, such as when a member of the Royal Family steps back from public duties,” a government source told People.