It was revealed that the Queen gave permission for her son to "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future" after his interview about his ties to Jeffrey Epstein

By Stephanie Petit
November 22, 2019 11:15 AM

Queen Elizabeth was spotted horse riding with son Prince Andrew amid the announcement that he is “stepping back from public duties.”

The mother-son duo were seeing riding with two escorts around the Windsor Castle estate on Friday. Both were bundled up in long coats, with the 93-year-old monarch covering up her head with a hood, while Andrew, 59, sported a helmet.

It was revealed Wednesday that the Queen gave permission for her son to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” in the aftermath of his explosive BBC interview about his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“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 organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” Prince Andrew said in a statement. “Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”

Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth
Ben Cawthra/Sipa

But moments after the announcement, Queen Elizabeth was back to business as usual — she was all smiles in a light pink ensemble with a diamond brooch as she arrived at the Royal institute of International Affairs in London to present an award to Sir David Attenborough and Julian Hector, head of the BBC Natural History Unit, for their work on the Blue Planet II series.

Ben Cawthra/Sipa

The monarch even retained her sense of humor at the event, cracking a joke about her 72nd wedding anniversary to Prince Philip before signing the visitors’ book.

“What’s the date?” she cheekily asked. And when she got an answer, she replied with a laugh: “Well, of course I know what the date is!”

Queen Elizabeth
Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty

Since the interview aired on Saturday night in the U.K., the Queen’s second — and sometimes said to be “favorite” — son has been widely criticized for not showing empathy for the victims of Epstein — who died by suicide in jail in New York City in August while awaiting trial on multiple sex charges — and for his decision to stay with at the financier’s New York home in December 2010. That came just months after Epstein had served 13 months of an 18 month sentence for procuring a minor for prostitution.

Andrew also said he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges she was forced to have sex with the royal three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein when she was 17 years old.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty

Prince Andrew initially believed that his controversial interview went “quite well.” On Sunday, Andrew accompanied his mother Queen Elizabeth to church at Windsor and is reported to have told her that he thought the interview was a success. Buckingham Palace won’t confirm conversations between members of the family, but say that she was “aware” of the interview.