prince-andrew

Prince Andrew will not join the rest of the royal family at Commonwealth Day service

The ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey on 9 March

Gemma Strong

Prince Andrew is set to miss this year's Commonwealth Day service on 9 March. The Duke of York has attended the Westminster Abbey ceremony on a number of occasions, but will not be making a public appearance with other senior royals this year. In 2019, Andrew accompanied his mother, the Queen, as she arrived at the service by car. But he will be absent on Monday having stepped back from royal duties in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

prince-andrew-commonwealth-service-2019

Prince Andrew arrived with the Queen for the 2019 Commonwealth Day service

In a statement issued by the Prince in November, he confirmed: "I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission. 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 at the time 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.

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While Andrew will be absent from the 2020 Commonwealth service, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will join the Queen for what will be one of their last official engagements. Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Kate will also be in attendance. It will be the first time the Sussexes have appeared with the royal family since their surprise announcement in January, in which they declared their desire to "step back" as senior royals, and "work to become financially independent" of the monarchy.

Royal watchers will no doubt be keen to see the dynamics between the couple and the rest of the family, as they are reunited after a difficult few months. The Cambridges and Sussexes are expected to stand together inside Westminster Abbey as they await first Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, followed by the Queen.

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