Despite the shocking announcement that her son Prince Andrew is “stepping back from public duties,” Queen Elizabeth was back to royal business as usual on Tuesday evening with a solo appearance in London.
The Queen, 93, was all smiles in a light pink ensemble with a diamond brooch as she arrived at the Royal institute of International Affairs in London to present an award to Sir David Attenborough and Julian Hector, head of the BBC Natural History Unit, for their work on the Blue Planet II series.
Just moments before her outing, it was revealed that the Queen gave permission for her son, the Duke of York, to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” in the aftermath of his explosive BBC interview about his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” Prince Andrew said in a statement.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
Since the interview aired on Saturday night in the U.K., the Queen’s second son has been widely criticized for not showing empathy for the victims of Epstein — who died by suicide in jail in New York City in August while awaiting trial on multiple sex charges — and for his decision to stay with at the financier’s New York home in December 2010. That came just months after Epstein had served 13 months of an 18 month sentence for procuring a minor for prostitution.
Andrew also said he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges she was forced to have sex with the royal three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein when she was 17 years old.
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Prince Andrew initially believed that his controversial interview went “quite well.” On Sunday, Andrew, 59, accompanied his mother Queen Elizabeth, 93, to church at Windsor and is reported to have told her that he thought the interview was a success. Buckingham Palace won’t confirm conversations between members of the family, but say that she was “aware” of the interview.
Wednesday also marks the Queen and Prince Philip’s 72nd wedding anniversary. While the Queen takes on her work duties in London, Prince Philip, who retired from royal life in 2017, is spending the day at Sandringham. Several royal family members took to social media to share their congratulations.
In a speech at during her appearance at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Queen said: “Sir David, this award recognizes your many talents and one can’t help but feel that, for those of us of a certain generation, we can take great pleasure in proving age is no barrier to being a positive influence.”
“Your ability to communicate the beauty and vulnerability of our natural environment remains unequalled as you – and your team – have engaged and enthused many people, young and old, to appreciate and preserve our world’s oceans. For that we should all be thankful.
“I congratulate you and all involved in this endeavor.”