Prince Andrew Arrives at Queen’s Christmas Lunch After Quitting Public Duties Amid Epstein Scandal

Erin Hill

Prince Andrew was one of the first royal family members to arrive at Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

The royal’s appearance at the annual holiday party comes just weeks after his announcement that he is “stepping back from public duties” following his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Charles, who was on his royal tour at the time, had been consulted by Queen Elizabeth about the decision. Prince WIlliam, 37, was also involved.

Andrew’s oldest daughter Princess Beatrice, who recently announced her engagement, was also spotted arriving at the holiday lunch.

The fallout from Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey 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.

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Princess Beatrice | Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty

The decision “shows that the royals can move very swiftly and very ruthlessly,” royal historian Robert Lacey tells PEOPLE.

RELATED: What Does Prince Andrew’s Decision to ‘Step Back’ from Royal Duties Mean for the Royal Family?

Kate Middleton and Princess Charlotte arrive at Queen's Christmas lunch | Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Prince William and Prince George arrive at Queen's Christmas lunch | Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Prince Louis

But the Queen, 93, has made sure that her personal support remains with her son. He accompanied her on horseback with two escorts on Nov. 22 — something she would know would likely be captured by photographers and send a signal that, despite her decision to ask him to withdrawn from public work on her behalf, she still stands by him.

While Prince Andrew will not perform any more public duties as a member of the royal family, not much else will change at this time.

“He remains a member of the royal family,” a royal source says. “As a royal colonel and a war veteran, you can expect to see him at Remembrance Sunday. You can expect to see him on the balcony at Trooping the Colour too.”

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Prince Charles arrives at Queen's Christmas lunch | Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives at Queen's Christmas lunch | Aaron Chown/PA Images/Getty

The Queen’s holiday bash typically seats more than 50 royal family members.
Andrew is also joined by Prince William, Kate Middleton and their two older children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Princess Anne and Princess Beatrice were also spotted arriving to the lunch. Zara and Mike Tindall were also in attendance.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did not attend as they are currently on their six-week break from royal duties and reportedly abroad with baby Archie.