Prince Andrew was pictured leaving Windsor Castle today, the day after sources told the Daily Mail he would never return to his official duties and face a future in the royal wilderness .
The Queen’s second son stepped down from official engagements a year ago following his disastrous BBC interview regarding the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
But in recent weeks, the eighth to the throne has waged a low-key public relations salute, suggesting he was preparing to return to the public eye and “serve his country again.”
However, multiple sources said this week that it is highly unlikely, even as the Duke of York is finally speaking to U.S. officials about his connections to convicted pedophile Epstein.
Prince Andrew, pictured above at Windsor Castle on November 14, will never return to official duty and faces a future in the royal wilderness, sources told the Daily Mail
The Duke of York was spotted on a morning drive through Windsor Great Park in his Range Rover on Saturday, accompanied by a security guard in the car.
Dressed in a mask, he was seen driving his large black vehicle as he rode The Long Walk to Windsor Castle, on the grounds where he also lives at the Royal Lodge, which has been rented to him since 2003.
He still doesn’t know how and when Andrew might speak to US officials, although US prosecutors have made it clear that this is a priority for them.
The Duke of York was seen driving through Windsor Great Park on Saturday in his Range Rover, accompanied by a security guard in the car.
Wearing a mask, he was seen driving his large black vehicle as he climbed the long walk to Windsor Castle
“This is as much the judgment shown on the issue as the allegations themselves,” warned a well-placed source.
“Even if the Duke were to solve the problems satisfactorily [Epstein], there is still a problem regarding [his] lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation and refusal to accept that the relationship was bad.
They added: “I’m not sure there will ever be an opportunity for him to come back. “
For more than a decade, Andrew, 60, has been dogged by allegations of his close friendship with the multi-millionaire financier, who committed suicide last year while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges.
The prince was particularly close to Epstein’s British girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested and charged earlier this year for his crimes.
The Queen’s son has been accused by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, of having sex with her when she was just 17.
Prince Andrew is seen for the first time since he did not attend the traditional cenotaph service of remembrance as the Duke of York moves to Windsor Castle on November 9
The prince has vehemently denied her claims and says he doesn’t even remember meeting her, although there is a photo of them together at Maxwell’s in London.
Last November Andrew gave his side of the story to Emily Maitlis on the BBC’s Newsnight show.
But the unrestricted interview was an absolute disaster. The public fury that followed, especially for his lack of sympathy for Epstein’s victims, led the Queen to intervene and force him to retire from public life “for the foreseeable future”.
Prince Andrew is ‘highly unlikely to serve his country again’, though he speaks to US officials about his links to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (pictured above)
Last month, it was reported that Andrew was “focusing on the way forward” and looking to “reframe” his royal role, which could see him return to public office as early as next year.
But royal insiders described these reports as “kites” – making a suggestion to see how others react to them.
A royal insider said: ‘The reality … is that there is no negotiation of a new role, and there never will be, because there could never be a performance version that could work. . “
Another said emphatically: “It’s not even on the agenda or under discussion.
A source close to Andrew did not deny that he wanted to resume his royal duties.
But they told the Mail last night: “The Duke’s future role can only be seriously considered once the legal process in the United States has been resolved and the Duke’s side of the story is properly explained.
Until then, the Duke is sensitive to the mood of the public and the fact that the institution [of the monarchy] must come first.
The Sussexes hire more PR gurus
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have appointed two top-flight women to lead their public relations team.
The couple recruited Christine Schirmer – former global head of communications on social media site Pinterest – for her own role as head of communications. And Toya Holness will become their press officer.
Miss Holness was the Director of Communications for the New York Department of Education. Harry and Meghan already have a UK communications manager James Holt who will respond to his new US counterparts, according to PR Week magazine.
And it is understood that they will continue to use the services of aggressive US celebrity public relations firm Sunshine Sachs.
Earlier this year, the couple announced that they would no longer recognize or cooperate with a significant number of British media outlets which they believe were unfair and misreported their activities.