The 93-year-old monarch took her Sunday drive from Balmoral Castle, the Scottish estate where the Queen spends the summer months, to a service at Crathie Kirk this weekend. Sitting beside her in the backseat of the car was her 59-year-old son Andrew, who was snapped sporting a big smile.
The mother-son duo were also joined at church by Prince Charles, 70, arriving in a separate car.
Andrew has distanced himself from the scandal around his former friend Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, 66, died by suicide in jail, authorities confirmed on Aug. 16. The billionaire financier was discovered in cardiac arrest nearly a month after he was arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14 and died in the hospital, CNN reported at the time.
Buckingham Palace released a statement about how the Duke of York was “appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.”
“It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr. Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life. This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr. Epstein. Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation,” Andrew wrote in a second statement.
“I met Mr. Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences. At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction,” he continued. “I had said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I know of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know. I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour.”
It recently emerged that some of Prince Andrew’s royal duties were being affected in the wake of the claims against Epstein.
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It also emerged recently that Andrew had an argument with the Queen’s Master of Household, Tony Johnstone-Burt, over a request from Andrew to use some rooms in Buckingham Palace for his Pitch@Palace initiative, the Daily Mail reported. When that request was turned down, the conversation switched to the pros and cons of Andrew’s pet project that works to help entrepreneurs find new exposure and support for their business ideas.
Johnson-Burt, who like Andrew is a former naval officer, struck a nerve. But the clash dissolved quickly, the outlet adds.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson refused to confirm the name of the staffer, as they don’t discuss personnel matters, but, in a statement, they said, “Sometime ago there was a disagreement between the Duke of York and a member of staff. The disagreement was resolved and there are no ongoing issues.”