Andrew tested water at event where ‘no one would dare boo him’
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Following his rapid fall from grace, Prince Andrew has led a life largely out of the spotlight; he does not carry out official duties and only attends the most major public events, including the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III.
But earlier this year, the Duke of York unexpectedly showed up at a royal event — despite being “in no way required” to.
Andrew was among guests at the Royal Victorian Order Service in March, an event which sees Members and Medallists of the Royal Victorian Order gather in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle
Royal expert Gertrude Daly, who goes by Gerts Royals on Twitter, described the service as the “ideal thing” for Andrew, who was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 2011, to attend as there was “no press invited’.
Moreover, those who were in attendance likely represented a demographic considerably more supportive of Andrew than the general public.
Ms Daly told Express.co.uk: “While Prince Andrew’s popularity in the UK may be low, there are a lot of people out there who still like him. They might be a minority, but I’m sure they could fill a banquet hall for a charity event.
“I think a lot of royals, and people in similar positions, are surrounded by ‘yes’ men. I am sure at dinner parties, close friends are telling Andrew how much people still love him, and how ‘just last week they were talking with a friend at a bar who said it was a shame Prince Andrew isn’t doing royal duties any more.’ And when you are isolated, as Andrew has been over the last three years, and surrounded by people who support you, you are going to get a distorted view of the world, and your public support.”
She continued: “And we can’t forget the Royal Victorian Order is a personal honour from the monarch (one of the few honours that isn’t decided by the Government), and given for service to the monarchy. And an event filled with just people who served the monarchy sounds like an event that might have higher than average support for Prince Andrew. No one there would dare to boo him.”
The late Queen Elizabeth II made her second son a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1976. He was upgraded to a Knight Commander in 2003, and then a Knight Grand Cross in 2011.
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The Duke attended the service in the company of his brothers King Charles III and Prince Edward, sister Princess Anne, and in-laws Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Sir Timothy Laurence.
Reportedly wearing his ermine robes, which signify his position as a Knight of the Garter — an honour he has retained despite being stripped of his duties as a working royal — Andrew attended the grand ceremony, which celebrates loyalty and service to the Royal Family.
Andrew is said to have attended the dinner and subsequent party, held at Windsor Castle, which welcomed around 600 guests.
His appearance, however, was not mentioned in the Court Circular — the official record of past royal engagements.
Ms Daly said: “What made the Royal Victorian Order Service the ideal thing for Prince Andrew to attend is that there was no press invited to the event. And as it was at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, he could come and go without being photographed.
“There may have been stories about his attendance in the press, but it wasn’t as big as it would have been had he been photographed…Attending the service was in no way required of Prince Andrew. We have never seen (at least in recent years) every royal with the honour attend the service. And a number of royals who have the honour have never attended once.”
She continued: “So, the fact that Prince Andrew showed up at a royal event he is in no way required to attend says a lot, especially as the service has a ballot each year as there are too many RVO members to allow everyone to attend.
“I think Prince Andrew wants to make a comeback…he is trying to find a way to come back but in a less visible way, with less media attention. I think Andrew thinks he can still provide value to the monarchy, if only he were put into rooms stacked with supporters.”
When the Duke of York made his most recent public appearance, his reception was not as pleasant.
Andrew was met with a chorus of boos as he was driven down The Mall on his way to Buckingham Palace on Saturday morning. Royal fans, who were seated in a grandstand in front of the London royal residence, made their feelings about the disgraced duke known.
The Prince stopped at the Palace before travelling to watch his elder brother be crowned at Westminster Abbey. There, he was seated in the third row — behind the working members of the Royal Family and alongside his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and nephew Prince Harry.
Despite being given an inconspicuous position in the Abbey, and playing no part in the Coronation ceremony, Andrew was permitted to wear his Garter robes.
It marks a notable change since last June, when he was banned from appearing alongside senior members of the Royal Family at the Order of the Garter ceremony.
A last-minute decision saw the King and the Prince of Wales order the Duke to remain behind Palace walls over fear of backlash.
Charles’s recent decision suggests he may be taking a softer approach to dealing with his younger brother.
Andrew was said to have been “furious” at being blocked from last year’s Garter Day procession.
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