The Duke of York could not return to public life unless he clears his name, Buckingham Palace sources have insisted, after it was claimed he had begun informal discussions with the Royal Family about his future role.
The Duke, 60, stepped back from official royal duties last November, following a disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted paedophile. Yet insiders have long made clear that he is desperate to rebuild his reputation, and had even pinned his hopes on a “complete exoneration.”
A source close to Prince Andrew has now acknowledged that while he knows he cannot “carry on as normal” he had some “clear thoughts” about his future service.
The Duke was said to be devising a “reframing” of his role that could see him return to some public duties next year, if he can resolve the legal issues surrounding his relationship with Epstein and the allegation that he slept with one of the financier’s 17-year-old victims when she was in London.
The Duke has always vigorously denied the allegations.
Buckingham Palace has made clear that while family members privately support him, a return to any form of public role could only be considered if it is no longer overshadowed by his link to Epstein. A senior royal aide commended the Duke for the “level of maturity” he had displayed in dealing with the fallout thus far, accepting, for example, that he could not feature in his daughter, Princess Beatrice’s official wedding photographs or attend the Cenotaph next month on Remembrance Sunday.