Though Prince Philip won’t reach his 100th birthday until next June, it seems the palace is already figuring out how they will mark the occasion. It’s too soon to tell if he’ll have a birthday parade like the Queen Mother did to celebrate her centenary, but the Sun reports that the Royal Collections Trust is already planning a photo exhibition to take place at one of the royal galleries. According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, one instruction has been made clear: don’t overdo it on references to Prince Andrew, who left his role as a senior royal last year after the controversy over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein became a matter of public criticism.
“There is a warning from up high to play down Andrew. He will be included as little as possible,” the insider said. “It’s not whitewashing history because you can’t leave him out entirely. But it will not make a big deal of his relationship with the Duke of Edinburgh over the years. This is obviously proving difficult because he is his son and it’s playing down his role in the family.”
The Sun added that Andrew will not be invited to major celebrations related to Philip’s birthday, and that Philip’s team has already decided that he won’t be asked to contribute a message to the exhibition program. When reached by the newspaper, the RCT said, “Plans are not yet confirmed.”
The controversy about Andrew and Epstein first became an issue in 2011, and the prince was forced to give up his official role as a trade representative. Yet he remained a senior royal and favored member of the family for years. When the RCT put together an exhibition of photographs for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, an image taken by Cecil Beaton at his christening featured prominently, and he appeared in multiple family portraits.
Epstein’s 2019 arrest and subsequent suicide put increasing pressure on Andrew to account for the relationship, and his attempt to clear the air in an interview with the BBC show Newsnight backfired spectacularly. But after his resignation from royal duties, royal aides told Vanity Fair that he would not be stripped of his title and would still attend private events.
So while Andrew is still invited to some events behind closed doors, like a Buckingham Palace staff luncheon last December, he has been edited out of public celebrations. A planned celebration for his 60th birthday in February was cancelled, though the bells at Westminster Abbey did still ring for him, as they are likely to do again in 2021. Though he took part in the surprise ceremony where Princess Beatrice married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July, the palace’s official photographs only showed the couple with Beatrice’s grandparents, the queen and Philip.
As recently as this spring, reports claimed that Andrew was interested in returning to his public role eventually, despite public tensions with the U.S. Attorney’s office investigating Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, an alleged co-conspirator. The instructions surrounding Philip’s upcoming birthday make it clear that the palace does not foresee his return to royal duties anytime before next summer, if ever.
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