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Prince Andrew, to Everyone’s Surprise Except His Own, Leads Royals in Mourning at Balmoral

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Prince Andrew, the queen’s disgraced second son, took a surprise central role in the family’s public mourning rituals at Balmoral, Scotland, Saturday, telling mourners, “We’ve been allowed one day, now we start the process of handing her on.”

Andrew reportedly made the comment on an informal walkabout with other members of his family after attending a private service at the local church, Crathie Kirk.

Andrew, who has not been seen at a public event since his father Prince Philip’s memorial earlier this year, walked back to the house at the front of a small group of family members, which also included his daughter Eugenie and Princess Anne and her children, Zara and Peter, and Prince Edward, his wife Sophie and their daughter Lady Louise.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise Windsor, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice who was recently appointed counselor of state ‘for King Charles III are seen meeting with members of the public outside the gates Balmoral Castle for a church service at Crathie Kirk on September 10, 2022 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Karwai Tang / WireImage

Karwai Tang / WireImage

The group stopped outside the gates of Balmoral House to admire floral tributes left by the public. A crowd of well-wishers, many of whom are understood to be local people form the neighboring villages who have a fierce loyalty to all members of the family, were gathered there.

Andrew waved to the crowd and steepled his hands in thanks.

Andrew earlier this year paid a multi-million dollar sum to settle a sex case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre, and has only infrequently been seen in public since he was stripped of his royal roles and his HRH stye by the queen.

He did not make a comment to TV cameras. However, the Telegraph and MailOnline both reported that Andrew, who gave a car-crash Newsnight interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, told a mourner, who asked how the family were coping: “We’ve been allowed one day, now we start the process of handing her on.”

The group then stopped at the castle gates to look at floral tributes left for the queen. Princess Eugenie laid a bouquet of flowers, and both she and Zara Tindall appeared to wipe away tears as they read messages.

Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York (L) stands with his daughters Britain’s Princess Eugenie of York (C) and Britain’s Princess Beatrice of York as they look at the flowers placed outside Balmoral Castle in Ballater, on September 10, 2022, two days after Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96.

ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP via Getty Images

Prince Andrew put on a pair of glasses and crouched down to read the messages, before standing up and hugging his daughter to comfort her.

Andrew’s public appearance Saturday will trigger speculation that the family are testing the water for him to be given a public role in his mother’s funeral arrangements.

In particular, he may yet be invited to “stand guard” around his mother’s coffin when it is lying in state in London, in the so-called “Vigil of the Princes.”

Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Prince Andrew, Duke of York look at flowers left outside the gates of Balmoral Castle on September 10, 2022 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Karwai Tang / WireImage

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