Over the past few months, Prince Andrew has kept a low profile. In November, following enormous public criticism over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he stepped back from his senior role in the royal family for the "foreseeable future." And since then, save for attending church with his family a few times, the Queen's son has largely stayed out of the the public eye.
But last week, he appeared to return to royal duties (or at least some form of unofficial royal diplomacy) by meeting with Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK. Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, his daughter Princess Beatrice, and future son-in-law Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, were also present at the event which marked the Chinese New Year.
Shortly after the visit, Xiaoming tweeted that Prince Andrew had delivered a message from the Queen, who expressed her sympathy to the Chinese people amid the 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,” Xiaoming wrote on social media. He also posted two different photos from the meeting, and explained that he had invited the York family over for the celebration.
"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," he wrote.
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
Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm whether the statement indeed came from the Queen, or if Andrew was tasked to relay it. ITV's Chris Ship reports that the Palace said "it was a private meeting" and declined to comment "on what was, or was not conveyed."
My question to Buckingham Palace: “Did the Queen convey these words about #coronaviruschina to President Xi or not?— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) February 8, 2020
Answer: it was a private meeting, we won’t comment on what was, or was not conveyed.
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