But after attending a remembrance service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor on Sunday, the Queen’s second son, 61, gave his first interview since he stepped back from royal duties, describing his mother as “an incredibly stoic person”.
Speaking of the “terrible loss” the family was suffering, he said: “I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother who is feeling it, I think, probably more than everybody else.
“The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person. And she described his passing as a miracle.
“And she's contemplating, I think is the way that I would put it. She described it as having left a huge void in her life, but we, the family, the ones that are closer, are rallying around to make sure that we're there to support her.”
Eyebrows were raised that the Duke was permitted to speak on his mother’s behalf by Buckingham Palace, having effectively been banned from ever giving another interview after his one-hour chat with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis sparked such controversy.
During the car crash interview, the royal refused to express regret over his friendship with Epstein, confirmed that he had met with Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell before she was arrested and charged over sex trafficking allegations, and claimed being shot at during the Falklands meant he “stopped being able to sweat”.
Asked for his response to allegations against him made by one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that they had had sex at Ms Maxwell's house in Belgravia in 2001, the Duke denied the claim and replied that he was at Pizza Express in Woking that night.
Footage of the Duke speaking outside the church – alongside the Earl and Countess of Wessex – was widely condemned on social media, with Twitter users complaining that “the only interview he should be giving is to the FBI”.
A friend on Sunday night defended the move, saying his touching tribute reflected a change in character.
“Do remember that Prince Andrew has been in a self-imposed and very self disciplined lockdown since the end of 2019.
“That’s 18 months to reflect on life. What you heard today was Andrew the grandfather, the father and – now, more than ever – the son. It’s nice to see, isn’t it?”
While there is no suggestion that the Duke will be returning to royal duties, another source said he planned to be a “rock” for his widowed mother. “He is the closest to the Queen of any of her children and is her most frequent visitor as he lives so close by.
"She has increasingly come to rely on him for support and he is only too willing to give it.”