Prince Andrew received a birthday message from the Queen on the Buckingham Palace Instagram account on Wednesday, but there was one notable difference in this year’s greeting. His 2019 birthday post read: "Happy Birthday to HRH The Duke of York #HappyBirthdayHRH." In contrast, his 2020 message does not refer to Andrew as His Royal Highness, as noticed by Gert's Royal Twitter page. Instead, the post reads: "On this day in 1960, Prince Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace, the first child born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Happy Birthday to The Duke of York."
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson tells HELLO!: "The tweet follows our house style and as was confirmed in November last year, the Duke has stepped back from his public duties and patronages for the foreseeable future and remains a member of the royal family." HELLO! understands that the Palace often alternates how it refers to members of the royal family on social media and today's birthday message is not unusual.
Prince Andrew was not referred to as HRH in his Buckingham Palace birthday post
The Duke stepped back from public duties in November following his Newsnight interview, which centred around his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. He said at the time: "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 organisations and charities that I am proud to support.
"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission." He added: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
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Sources close to Andrew told HELLO! Online that the Duke has stepped back from royal duties, but remains a senior member of the royal family and will continue to attend core royal events, including Trooping the Colour, Royal Ascot and Remembrance Sunday, particularly given his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier guards, among other military titles. He will not be carrying out public engagements relating to his patronages.
Andrew is expected to celebrate his birthday in private with his former wife Sarah Ferguson, their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and friends at his Royal Lodge home in Windsor Great Park. Earlier on Wednesday, Sarah shared her own birthday message for the Prince, along with a striking black and white photograph of her ex-husband.