Friends say the 93 – year-old monarch, who remains devoted to duty often at the expense of her own family, has missed Philip’s steady hand at the tiller alongside her since his retirement from public duties at the age of 96 in 2017.“I’m sure it’s been good for his health not to be there getting involved in the day-to-day stresses and strains but I think the Queen has missed his hands-on approach to family matters, ”a source said. “He might have been a much stronger voice advising Andrew if he had been around more.”
Courtiers have confirmed that the Queen approved Andrew’s decision to agree to an interview with the BBC about his friendship with the paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and allegations – which he denies – that the eighth in line to the throne slept three times with a 17 – year-old girl who was the victim of sex trafficking.
His extraordinary 45 – minute interview, in which he expressed no remorse for his friendship with Epstein and no sympathy for the young women who say they were forced to provide sexual favors for his wealthy friends, including Andrew, provoked such a backlash that he was coming under growing pressure last night to withdraw from public life.
The Duke of York is grilled by Emily Maitlis(Image: BBC)
Government ministers remained tight-lipped but senior opposition politicians and former ministers spoke out. Lord Falconer, who served as Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair, said: “He’s got to make a decision about his own position and give effect to that decision.
“That has to involve, I believe, some sort of withdrawal from public life, maybe temporarily until the allegations are resolved or permanently if he thought that the damage was terminable.”
In the interview, Andrew said that he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 36, who has claimed she was forced to have sex with him three times, in London, New York, and the US Virgin Islands when she was 17.
He cast doubt on a now famous photograph showing him with his arm around the girl at the Belgravia home of Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the crooked newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell allegedly taken after they had been out dancing at Tramp nightclub in the capital, where he had bought her alcohol.
Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts, watched on by Ghislaine Maxwell(Image: Virginia Roberts)
Andrew claimed he always sported a suit and never wore the casual clothes in the photograph if he was out clubbing and had no idea where the bar was at Tramp, a members club.
However, it has since emerged he was regularly photographed out clubbing in similar open shirt and trousers and the bar at Tramp is less than 30 ft from customers.
Support for Andrew from his charity patronages and businesses sponsoring his flagship Pitch @ Palace scheme to encourage young entrepreneurs was rapidly evaporating.
Five multimillion-pound businesses and two universities cut their ties with the Dragons’ Den-like charity scheme and three more institutions said they were reviewing future involvement.
A day after a former Downing Street adviser of Sri Lankan origin claimed Andrew twice used ra cist language in conversations with him, Conservative ministers were said to be willing to support his account, which Andrew hotly denies.
Andrew, 59, was at Buckingham Palace for crisis meetings with staff.
He has not had an official engagement since November 11 and has none listed, although Palace officials have insisted it will be business as usual in the near future.
Since the interview, he has expressed regret for not showing sympathy with Epstein’s victims or wishing that he had never been friends with the tycoon, who was found hanged in a New York prison cell on August 10 while awaiting sex trafficking charges.
While the Queen is head of state and has always been in charge of the monarchy as an institution Philip, now 98 and living a quiet life at Wood Farm in specially adapted accommodation on t he Sandringham estate in Norfolk, has always been head of the family.
The couple speak every day on the phone but it is understood that they have not extended an spell under the same roof since Philip left Balmoral in early September.
She went to Sandringham for a long weekend last month and he has been to Buckingham Palace once since then.