Prince Andrew is not expected to be seen during Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee weekend.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace announced the Duke of York tested positive for COVID. He won’t attend the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral Friday to celebrate his mother’s 70 years on the throne.
The 62-year-old did not appear on the palace balcony during Trooping the Colour. He stepped back from royal duties in 2019 due to his controversial association with late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“After undertaking a routine test, the Duke has tested positive for COVID and with regret will no longer be attending tomorrow’s service,” a palace spokesperson revealed.
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Andrew was last spotted Wednesday riding a horse on the Royal Estate in Windsor. According to reports, he appeared to be “in high spirits.” It is believed that Andrew has met with the queen, 96, in the last few days but has been undertaking regular testing and has not seen her since he tested positive.
Before the diagnosis, True Royalty TV co-founder Nick Bullen told Fox News Digital he did not expect to see the prince on camera throughout the Platinum Jubilee weekend. Bullen described how, behind palace doors, Andrew has quietly supported the queen during this joyous moment in her decades-long reign.
“It’s widely known that the queen and the Duke of York are very close,” he explained. “They share a different dynamic, in comparison to [his siblings] Prince Charles, Prince Edward and Princess Anne. In the early years, when they were children, the queen was very much on tour around the Commonwealth. It was the early days of her being queen. She admitted that. So for a large part of their younger life, she was busy being the queen.
“By the time Andrew came along, she had been in the job for much longer,” Bullen added. “She knew the job better. “And I think she was able to balance the job and motherhood a little more evenly.”
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Bullen is an award-winning documentarian who has been producing programs about the British royal family for 20 years and has worked closely with Charles, 73, for about a decade. In celebration of the Platinum Jubilee, the subscription video-on-demand service is highlighting a new special, “Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee: The Collection,” along with six documentaries featuring historic footage and interviews from the queen’s reign.
“The relationship between the queen and Prince Andrew has always been strong,” said Bullen. “I know, because he lives moments away from the castle where the queen is based. There is plenty of ability for them to see each other quite a lot. And I’ve been told he’s been with her a lot over the recent months.
“And, to be blunt, he doesn’t have any royal duties to fulfill. His children are grown, and his siblings are all busy fulfilling their royal duties. So Andrew has more time on his hands. Therefore, he has become more readily available to the queen, which I’m sure she enjoys. Everyone knows she loves his company.”
Andrew has largely been kept out of the spotlight since he stepped down in late 2019 following his disastrous interview concerning his ties with Epstein. In January, the queen stripped Andrew of his military titles and patronages. He is still in the line of succession to the throne. He is currently ninth behind Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s two children. However, Andrew cannot use “His Royal Highness” in any capacity.
On March 29, Andrew accompanied the queen for a Service of Thanksgiving honoring his late father, Prince Philip. The reigning monarch’s choice of escort was seen as support for her son after he settled a lawsuit that was linked to his relationship with Epstein.
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Andrew’s role underscored that he is still a member of the royal family, even after the scandal rocked the palace.
Andrew strenuously denied Virginia Giuffre’s allegations after she sued him. She accused the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with Epstein in 2001, when she was 17.
Giuffre, 38, reached a settlement with Andrew after a judge rejected the prince’s bid to win early dismissal of the lawsuit earlier this year.
In a letter to the judge from Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, a statement was included that said, in part, “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”
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According to the statement, Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said the prince “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”
He also pledged to support the victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when, her lawyers maintain, she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew.
Her lawsuit said she suffered significant emotional and psychological distress and harm. She alleged she had sex with Andrew three times: in London during a 2001 trip, at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the Virgin Islands when she was 18.
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Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her, although a photograph of Giuffre and Andrew together in a London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff, was included in Giuffre’s lawsuit against him.
Inconsistencies in her statements over the years that would have been highlighted by Andrew’s attorneys at trial may have motivated her, in part, to settle, though she has explained them as innocent mistakes that occurred when recalling traumatic events years later.
Andrew spent years combating concerns about his links to Epstein, who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges.
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A settlement of Andrew’s lawsuit followed deals reached by Giuffre years ago to resolve separate lawsuits against Maxwell and Epstein. It was recently revealed that Epstein settled for $500,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.