Prince Andrew 'won't return to public duties' after Jeffrey Epstein friendship scandal

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
Andrew is understood to not be returning to public life. (Getty Images)

Prince Andrew will never return to public life as a senior royal, it has been claimed, six months after he stepped back “for the foreseeable future”.

Andrew, 60, faced public outcry after a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight about his friendship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke of York failed to apologise for the friendship he had with Epstein, who took his life in prison while awaiting trial for sex trafficking offences.

The duke told Emily Maitlis he did not regret being friends with Epstein, because of the opportunities the friendship brought.

While the duke had hoped the interview would draw a line under the matter, it instead meant he had to issue a statement accepting it had caused a major disruption to the work of the Royal Family.

He stepped back in November and has not carried out an official duty since. The Sunday Times reported there are no plans to review his position, and said the Queen is understood to be resigned to his permanent removal.

Andrew was a regular fixture at Trooping the Colour. (Getty Images)

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Buckingham Palace told The Times there was no further comment from the November statement.

Andrew accompanied the Queen to church in Norfolk in January, the first Sunday after she struck the deal with Prince Harry and Meghan which allowed them to leave their roles as senior royals.

He was also then pictured on Instagram as he helped his former wife Sarah Ferguson pack care boxes for Thames Hospice.

The duke would have been due a military promotion for his 60th birthday in February, but he deferred it. Councils were also told they did not need to fly the flag for his birthday.

At the time, Buckingham Palace said: "By convention, the Duke of York would be in line for military promotion on his 60th birthday.

"Following the decision by His Royal Highness to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, the Duke of York has asked the Ministry of Defence if this promotion might be deferred until such time that His Royal Highness returns to public duty.”

The chalet owned by Andrew and his former wife, which is the subject of a legal dispute. (Getty Images)

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Last year, Prince Andrew said: “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.

“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.”

Andrew carried out senior duties for the Queen after retiring from the Navy. (Getty Images)

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Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, alleges the royal had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17.

Andrew, who strenuously denies the allegations, has faced calls to talk to the FBI and US prosecutors still investigating Epstein, who say the royal has declined to co-operate with them.

Many charities have already severed their links with Andrew, which could increase the workload for other royals.

He was brought into further scandal earlier this year when it emerged he owed millions of pounds on a ski chalet in Verbier.