It marked the first public outing in over five months for the queen, who arrived on the arm of her son, Prince Andrew, and using a cane. The 95-year-old queen had been plagued by health problems in recent months, including a bout with COVID-19 in February.
The disgraced Duke of York, who stepped back from his royal duties amid a scandal involving his relationship with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was given an extraordinary role in Tuesday’s events. He rode in a car alongside the queen from Windsor, where she resides, to the abbey, and escorted his mother from a side door to her seat.
Many familiar with the royal family were shocked at the prominence of Andrew’s presence, even though it had been announced earlier that he would attend the ceremony. The prince was stripped of all military titles and royal patronages in January and reached a settlement in a sexual abuse lawsuit last month.
Andrew, who has long been under fire for his ties to Epstein, stepped back from royal duties in 2019 after a disastrous interview with BBC “Newsnight.” Soon after that, the queen was photographed riding horses with Andrew in an apparent show of support.
The duke reportedly hoped to return to royal duties at some point, but he became increasingly ensnareded in the Epstein scandal. Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit in August 2021, accusing the royal of sexually assaulting and abusing her when she was a minor in 2001. Andrew denied her allegations.
In January, as the lawsuit continued, the duke was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages — a move Buckingham Palace said was supported by Queen Elizabeth and Andrew himself.
“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” the palace said in a statement at the time, one day after a federal judge denied Andrew’s motion to drop the civil case. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
Andrew reached an out-of-court settlement with Giuffre in February and made a “substantial donation” to her charity in support of victims’ rights, his lawyer, David Bois, said in a statement.
The donation was worth a reported $16.3 million with contributions from the queen, The Telegraph reported.
Other members of the royal family also attended the service honoring Prince Philip, including Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex; and Prince William and Kate Middleton and their two eldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Prince Harry previously said he would not attend, though he was present at his grandfather’s pared-down funeral last year.
The Duke of Edinburgh died on April 9, 2021, at the age of 99. He was married to the queen for more than 70 years.
His funeral was relatively spare due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday’s service was an opportunity to remember Philip, allowing royals from around the world, members of the military and government officials to pay their respects.