Queen appears with Prince Andrew for first time since he stepped down from royal duties

Ross McGuinness
Prince Andrew joined the Queen at a church service on Sunday (Picture: PA)
Prince Andrew joined the Queen at a church service on Sunday. (PA)

The Queen has appeared in public with Prince Andrew for the first time since he stepped down from royal duties.

The Duke of York was forced to withdraw from his role in November following his disastrous Newsnight interview over his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

He accompanied the Queen to church on Sunday, in her first appearance since announcing that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be stepping back from the Royal Family.

Andrew joined the Queen at St Mary the Virgin church in Norfolk to attend a Sunday service. Earlier this month, she was reportedly “deeply upset” by the scandal involving Prince Andrew.

Wearing a grey houndstooth checked dress and matching coat with a grey hat, the monarch smiled broadly as she arrived at the church in Hillington close to her estate.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew attend St Mary the Virgin church at Hillington in Sandringham on Sunday. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew attend St Mary the Virgin church at Hillington in Sandringham on Sunday. (PA)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends church at St Mary the Virgin at Hillington in Sandringham on January 19, 2020 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The Duke of York has stepped down from royal duties. (Getty)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use HRH and repay the taxpayers' millions spent on their Berkshire home.

At the weekend the duchess’s father, Thomas Markle, accused her of “cheapening” the Royal Family.

The announcements from the young royals have raised fresh questions about Andrew's ongoing role in the Royal Family.

The Duke of York has so-far kept his HRH title but reportedly faces changes to his security in the wake of Harry and Meghan's decision to leave the monarchy and split their time between the UK and Canada.

The Evening Standard reported that the Home Office is recommending a major downgrade of security for Andrew after a Scotland Yard review.

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Harry and Meghan, like Andrew, have personal protection officers from the Metropolitan Police, paid for by taxpayers.

But the change in roles for the Sussexes, their relocation and the removal of public funds meant their security and its funding formed part of the crisis talks.

After the allegations first surfaced in August, Andrew's TV interview sealed his fate, when he was accused of lacking empathy for Epstein's victims and of failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a church service at St Mary the Virgin Church in Hillington, Norfolk, eastern England, on January 19, 2020. - Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy. The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen has been dealing with the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to step back from the Royal Family. (AFP/Getty)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex depart Canada House on January 07, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend their time between the UK and Canada. (Getty)

Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, gave an interview to BBC Panorama and said she was left "horrified and ashamed" after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.

Since the interview, the duke has resigned a large number of his major patronages.

Meanwhile, the Queen said she recognised the "challenges" the Sussexes had faced over the past year, and added: "I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

"It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."