In a deviation from the planned program provided under embargo to BuzzFeed News by Buckingham Palace, the 95-year-old monarch arrived at the Duke of Edinburgh's Service of Thanksgiving accompanied by her son Prince Andrew — his first public appearance since settling a civil sex abuse case against him.
Philip died on April 9, 2021, at the age of 99. Due to the UK's COVID-19 restrictions, only a limited number of people were able to attend his funeral ceremony, so plans were made to hold a public service in honor of his life when restrictions eased. A number of elements that Philip had personally requested be a part of his funeral — including the presence of representatives from certain military units and members of the clergy from the royal estates of Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral — that were unable to be a part of the first ceremony were included in Tuesday's memorial.
Andrew's prominent place in the service and the Queen's very obvious public gesture of support, however, quickly overshadowed the details of the day.
In 2019, a woman named Virginia Giuffre publicly said that she had been forced to have sex with the Duke of York on multiple occasions as a teenager while she was under the control of Andrew's longtime friend Jeffrey Epstein, who had been convicted of procuring a minor for prostitution and was facing sex trafficking charges when he died.
Soon after these accusations were made public, Andrew sat for a disastrous BBC interview in November 2019 wherein he claimed to have never met Giuffre — in spite of a photograph that showed them together — and said that he was at a pizza restaurant with his daughters during one of the alleged assaults. Shortly after the interview aired, Andrew announced that he was "stepping back" from royal public duties.
Following his departure from royal life, the Duke of York was not seen at a public royal event until Philip's funeral on April 17, 2021.
In August 2021, Giuffre sued Andrew in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for sexual abuse, claiming that he sexually abused her on multiple occasions in New York, London, and on Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands between 2000 and 2002, when she was under the age of 18.
Although his lawyers attempted to get the case dismissed, on Jan. 21, a judge ruled that the case would move forward. One day after this decision, the Queen stripped Andrew of the honorary military titles and royal patronages that he had retained despite stepping back from official royal life. (He remains an official counsellor of state.)
The Duke of York and Giuffre reached a reportedly multimillion-dollar settlement on Feb. 15.
While Andrew's attendance of his father's service on Tuesday was always expected, his presence by the Queen's side was not.
According to the event's order of service, the Queen, who recently recovered from COVID-19 and is reportedly having difficulty walking, was supposed to enter Westminster Abbey by herself. Andrew was supposed to enter with his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and their respective husbands.
Not only was the Queen escorted to her seat in the front row by Andrew, who is her second son, but she also arrived and departed the church in a vehicle with him.
The Queen's obvious show of support was noted on Twitter.