Prince Andrew was meant to ‘sit behind daughters’ at memorial in ‘PR disaster’ for royals

Prince Philip memorial: Prince Andrew was to sit behind daughters

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Prince Andrew, 62, had a prominent role at Prince Philip’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey as the Queen’s “favourite son” helped the monarch walk up the aisle before taking a seat at the front next to Prince Edward. The Duke of York was supposed to sit with his daughters in the third row after stepping down from royal duties, according to the Daily Mirror’s Royal editor Russell Myers. He noted that the decision to give Andrew a role in the event was a “PR disaster” for the Royal Family.

Speaking to ITV’s Lorraine, Mr Myers said: “When they got to the Abbey and he is then walking her into the church, I think there were a lot of eyebrows raised.

“When you looked at the order of service he was supposed to be sitting with his daughters, behind the Queen with Beatrice and Eugenie then he was front and centre.

“Look at the front pages today and the coverage, it is absolutely extraordinary.”

He added: “We were talking last week about PR disaster for the Royal Family and I’m sorry to say this is another huge one that they’ve got to tackle.”

The Duke of York’s prominent appearance at his father’s memorial service was the Queen’s way of showing that her second son still has a role to play at family occasions, according to a royal commentator.

Andrew was front and centre of the high-profile occasion at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, despite paying millions out of court earlier this month to settle a civil sexual assault case.

The duke escorted his mother and had a front-row seat at the televised service – his first public appearance since the settlement to his accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the “downside” of Andrew having such a prominent role is that it is a reminder of his “many errors of judgment that have led him to being removed from public life”.

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Mr Hunt tweeted that having Andrew carry out his role was a sign of the Queen “endorsing” him, and he told the PA news agency: “It didn’t happen by chance.

“He could have sat in the congregation with others, with his relatives, but they actively decided that he would have this role of supporting her.

“So she has chosen, in essence, to remind people that he hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, he’s not guilty of anything, he’s innocent.

“And she’s very clearly stating that he has a role at family occasions.”

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Mr Hunt raised the question of whether the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge would have been supportive of Andrew having this role at the service.

“It’s one thing to accept that he should attend his father’s memorial service, it’s quite another thing to then give him quite a prominent role, so it was an active choice to give him such a prominent role,” he said.

Mr Hunt said he found it “fascinating”, and said: “Did William and Charles try to intervene? And clearly, if they did then they failed.”

He added: “I think you have to start from the basis that Charles and William will have been in the driving seat with the Queen of removing Andrew from public life.

“Both of them will have been very aware of the risks of Andrew having this role, so either they decided that they could justify it on the basis that it was an event for his father, or they did try to suggest this wasn’t a good idea and the Queen chose not to listen to them.”

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