PRINCE ANDREW was spotted speaking to his brother Prince Charles as they were heading side-by-side to St Mary Magdalene Church.
Prince Andrew was seen walking side-by-side with Prince Charles, his brother and heir apparent to the throne. The royals appeared to be speaking as they walked between Sandringham House, where they are celebrating Christmas with Prince Philip and the Queen, and the chapel regularly attended by the monarch when in Norfolk.
Andrew was also spotted arriving with his younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, and her husband Jack Brooksbank.
In a show of unity, Eugenie and Jack went on a stroll with the Duke of York to show the York family stand by Andrew amid the Epstein scandal.
While the Duke did walk to the chapel with other royals, he chose not to attend the Christmas Day service at 11am.
Rather, he attended the private service at 9am with the Queen, who was spotted arriving on a Land Rover in a fur coat and creme dress minutes before it started.
Palace sources confirmed the decision not to take part in the walkabout at 11am and the service with other royals has been taken by Prince Andrew himself.
ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship wrote on Twitter: “Palace sources confirm that Prince Andrew attended the earlier 9am ‘private’ church service at Sandringham and made a ‘personal decision’ to miss the 11am public service with the rest of the Royal Family.
“He stayed at the main house with his father, the Duke of Edinburgh.”
The presence of the Duke of York at Sandringham this year has been the focus of speculation in the past weeks, after his car crash interview with Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.
In the interview, Andrew discussed his association with Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender and former financier.
But he failed to express sympathy for Epstein’s victim and said he didn’t regret his relationship with him “as a whole”, sparking outrage among members of the public.
Because of this, several companies backing Andrew’s patronages and his entrepreneurship scheme, [email protected], either reviewed or withdrew their support.
A source claimed earlier this month Prince Andrew was at the centre of discussions concerning whether he should stay away from the church to avoid the risk of being publicly criticised or verbally attacked by sex abuse campaigners infiltrated among royal fans waiting outside the chapel.
They said: “There are discussions about Christmas day and a desire from many courtiers for Prince Andrew to stay away from the church, where he would be pictured with the rest of the family.
“There are now genuine concerns over sex abuse campaigners planning to be part of the crowds to jeer the Duke publicly.
“They know the world’s media would be there and it would end up dominating headlines of the day.
“There is no real fear from officials about the protest turning violent.
“It’s more about the further embarrassment it would cause to the Royal Family.”
Buckingham Palace initially led to think Prince Andrew would attend the service alongside other royals.
A spokesman at the palace told The Sunday Times: “The Duke of York is still a part of the royal family and you can expect to see him at family occasions.”