Princess Beatrice Is Dad Prince Andrew's 'Greatest Supporter' Amid Epstein Scandal: It's 'Very Hard Times'
A source tells PEOPLE that the couple’s wedding plans are underway, and Prince Andrew will likely play a major part in his daughter’s wedding despite the scandal surrounding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein that caused him to “step back” from his royal duties.
“I definitely think he will walk her down the aisle,” a source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “He plays a very traditional role in her life. She’s his greatest supporter.”
“This is obviously very hard times,” adds the insider.
Their family — including Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and 29-year-old daughter Princess Eugenie — remains tight-knit.
“They are still traveling together, they are still going ahead like normal,” says the source. “Beatrice would never do anything to be hurtful to her father. He’s going to be by her side and she’s going to be by his.”
While Beatrice’s father, Prince Andrew, was absent from the engagement bash, guests included several celebrity pals as well as the bride-to-be’s mother Fergie and sister Princess Eugenie.
“They were really happy to be surrounded by all their friends,” a friend of the couple tells PEOPLE. “They spent the time going around the room making sure they said hello everyone.”
Andrew likely skipped the party, which was thrown by Mozzi’s mother at Chiltern Firehouse, due to the ongoing controversy surrounding his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Andrew did, however, attend the Queen’s annual Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace earlier that afternoon. Both of his daughters were also in attendance at the holiday gathering.
Despite claims that Prince Andrew’s 31-year-old daughter and his ex-wife encouraged him to speak out following weeks of speculation after Epstein died by suicide in his jail cell in August, the decision was made by Andrew and his private office alone, PEOPLE previously confirmed.
The Daily Mail — which first reported the story — says Fergie and Beatrice “both cautioned him against doing the program, while his then private secretary Amanda Thirsk was more gung-ho, thinking it would offer him a chance to draw a line under his association” with Epstein.
In the months following Beatrice’s happy news, her dad has made headlines for his relationship with disgraced financier Epstein. Last month, he announced that he is he is “stepping back from public duties.”
The fallout from his disastrous BBC interview about his friendship with Epstein saw his official royal role collapse to almost nothing in a matter of days. He was removed from his hundreds of charitable patronages and his office was forced out of Buckingham Palace.
It remains unclear if Prince Andrew will join Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family at their annual walk to church services on Christmas morning, where he and his daughters are regular attendees.
The 59-year-old royal will likely retain his title as the Duke of York and keep his place in the line of succession to the throne, which is currently eighth behind Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s 7-month-old son, Archie. Many family members in the line of succession are not “working” royals, such as Princess Anne’s children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall.
Prince Andrew’s daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, also do not have official roles within the monarchy despite having causes that they champion. Their positions will not be affected by Andrew’s decision to withdraw from a public work life.