Britain’s Prince Andrew, the queen’s disgraced son, avoided the limelight on Christmas morning by skipping the royal family’s traditional mid-morning walk to church and attended an earlier private service with with Prince Charles – before the public was allowed in to watch the royals walk by. Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were front and center instead, NBC News reports.
Andrew, has kept a low profile in the wake of a scandal over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Last month, following enormous public criticism, Prince Andrew voluntarily resigned from his royal duties for the foreseeable future.
“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 organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” he wrote in a personal 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.”
He did not join other members of the family when they walked to the 11 a.m. service – one of the staples of the royal calendar. British media reported that Andrew had made a personal decision to miss the main service and instead stayed in the house with his father, Prince Philip.
Philip, 98, the Duke of Edinburgh, was only discharged from hospital on Tuesday where he was being treated for what Buckingham Palace described as a pre-existing condition.
Earlier this summer, the Sunday Times reported that the Duke of York would be attending Christmas services this year.
Holding hands with their parents, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, 6-year-old George — who is third in line to the throne — and Charlotte, aged 4, walked to church along with their grandfather, Prince Charles. Younger brother Prince Louis, aged 1, did not attend the hour-long service.
In what appeared to be a first, George and Charlotte walked over to waiting crowds to say hello after the noon service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, in the east of England. While in the public eye since birth, the royal children have until now had little direct contact with the public.