Why Queen Elizabeth Wanted Prince Andrew to Escort Her to Prince Philip's Memorial Service

Despite disquiet from royal family members, the Queen "insisted" Andrew accompany her to the service

Service of Thanksgiving for Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew. Photo: RICHARD POHLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Prince Andrew may have been stripped of his royal role amid his sexual assault lawsuit, but he played a prominent role at his father Prince Philip's memorial service on Tuesday.

In an unexpected move, Queen Elizabeth entered Westminster Abbey on the arm of her disgraced son. The pair traveled by car together from Windsor — six weeks after Andrew settled a sexual assault lawsuit with his accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Royal commentator Robert Jobson says there was uneasiness among senior members of the royal family about the Queen's decision, "but she insisted."

"It shows she wholeheartedly loves and believes her son," Jobson, the author of Prince Philip's Century. "As she did when she made a statement about Camilla being Queen's Consort, many people will now accept the Queen's word and judgment."

Service of Thanksgiving for Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew. RICHARD POHLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

"It does make some sense that he accompany her because he doesn't have a partner. A settlement has been paid but he's guilty of nothing in the eyes of the law," he adds. "She has faith in Andrew. Even if he disappears from public life, he's been able to pay tribute to his father, who after all, was very proud of his service in the Royal Navy, where he fought in the Falkland Islands conflict."

In January, the Queen stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles and patronages amid a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him by Giuffre, who alleges she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew at the age of 17. Andrew has denied any wrongdoing.

The decision to strip Andrew of his titles and affiliations was "widely discussed" within the senior ranks of the royal family, a royal source confirms to PEOPLE — likely meaning talks between Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Prince William.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew.

Prince Andrew announced in Nov. 2019 that he would "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future" following his bombshell interview with the BBC about his ties to Epstein.

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"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," he said in the 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."

But the Queen has maintained her support for Andrew, who is widely regarded as her favorite son. The Duke of York has been pictured riding with the Queen on her Windsor estate and regularly visits her at Windsor Castle.

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