Prince Andrew Skips Annual Royal Christmas Walk to Church and Attends Earlier Church Service
Prince Andrew attended Christmas services -- just away from the spotlight of the rest of the royal family.
While Prince William and his family -- wife Kate Middleton and their eldest kids, Prince George and Princess Charlotte -- and Andrew's brother, Prince Charles, were photographed on the annual walk to Church of St. Mary Magdalene on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, on Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II's other son made a far less public entrance.
According to People, Andrew attended the 9 a.m. service at the estate with Charles and his mother, Queen Elizabeth, which was earlier than the 11 a.m. service traditionally attended by the rest of the royal family. He arrived before members of the public gathered to watch the royals' annual walk.
Andrew stepped down from royal duties last month following his controversial TV interview about Jeffrey Epstein. In an official statement, the Duke of York, who has been making headlines recently for his ties to Epstein, announced he will no longer be taking on 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," Andrew said in the statement. Noting that he asked his mother if he might "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future," the 59-year-old royal revealed that Her Royal Highness gave her son her permission for him to step down.
The scandal has overshadowed the upcoming wedding of Andrew's daughter, Princess Beatrice. She got engaged to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi earlier this year -- and Mozzi made his Christmas walk debut on Wednesday -- but a source close to the 31-year-old princess told ET earlier this month that she has yet to set a wedding date, despite reports that she'll wed in 2020.
The source said "the family is very disappointed in the situation" involving Prince Andrew, adding that he has “embarrassed the family.”
"Everyone right now is concerned about Bea," the source explained. "Poor Bea. She deserves to have the wedding she wants and the public is going to go nuts [because of her father]."
Still, ET has learned that Andrew is still planning on walking Beatrice down the aisle, but he did not attend her star-studded engagement party last week.
He was also one of the first to arrive at Queen Elizabeth's Christmas lunch last week and has attended a function with his mother since the scandal broke.
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