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Prince Andrew is trying to stage a comeback amid Kate Middleton's absence, royal commentator says

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew attended the Thanksgiving service for the life of King Constantine in February.ANDREW MATTHEWS/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
  • Prince Andrew is making public appearances with the royal family after stepping down in 2019.

  • The family has been photographed with Andrew — a stark contrast to their previous strategy.

  • But royal commentators say Andrew's return to duties is unlikely.

As Kate Middleton stepped out of the public eye for cancer treatment, Prince Andrew was seemingly making his way back in.

Andrew, 64, has attended several high-profile events with the royal family in recent months.

The disgraced royal was photographed with the royal family on Christmas Day, and attended the memorial service for King Constantine in February, followed by an appearance at the royal family's Easter church service with King Charles and Camilla.

According to Kristen Meinzer, a royal commentator who spoke to Business Insider, the appearances could be part of a comeback plan.

A relaunch for the disgraced spare

Andrew, who also uses the title Duke of York, resigned from royal duties in 2019 following his disastrous "Newsnight" interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. (A Netflix movie about the interview, titled "Scoop," will premiere on Friday).

Public appearances have been sparse since Andrew's resignation, and the palace's press office initially went to great lengths to keep a firm distance between the prince and his family.

For instance, Andrew wasn't included in the official photos of his daughter Princess Beatrice's wedding in 2020 after reportedly walking her down the aisle.

Princess Beatrice and Prince Andrew 2018
Princess Beatrice and Prince Andrew.Max Mumby/ Getty Images

In January 2022, Andrew's military honors and royal patronages were returned. In addition, it was announced that he would no longer use the title of "His Royal Highness."

But the tone appears to have shifted in recent months as the royals have been willingly photographed alongside him.

Andrew's most recent appearance was at an Easter church service with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, and a number of senior royals, including the king and queen, Princess Anne, and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

royals at easter
Prince Andrew, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Sarah Ferguson and Princess Anne attend the Easter Sunday Service at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.Anadolu/Getty Images

Prince William was absent, as was Kate Middleton, who announced in March that she was undergoing "preventative chemotherapy."

Meinzer, a royal commentator and podcast host, said Andrew's appearances give the impression that he is trying to "orchestrate a revival" back into public life.

She said she was "disheartened" to see photos of Andrew "happily leading the family charge" at King Constantine's memorial service in February.

Photos taken before the service show Andrew and Sarah walking in front of a group of family members, including Beatrice, Anne, and Zara, and Mike Tindall.

The service was notably lacking in senior royals as Charles, Kate, and William were absent. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who stepped back from royal duties in 2020, also weren't in attendance.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are photographed with members of the royal family before the Thanksgiving Service for King Constantine.Andrew Matthews/Getty Images

"It felt like a relaunch of the disgraced spare — or a miscalculated attempt to assure the public that the royal family is doing just fine, minus Charles, William, and Harry," Meinzer said.

"I understand that this was ostensibly a 'personal event' as opposed to a 'business event' for the family. But I'd argue that much of the world saw it differently," she added.

Evan Nierman, a PR expert and author, told BI that the palace's press office is unlikely to be involved in a comeback plan as it doesn't serve the royals' interests. If such a plan does exist, Nierman said, Andrew is on his own.

"The family has much more to lose than gain by continuing to appear with Andrew, so there is certainly a case to be made for keeping their distance," said Nierman, who is founder and CEO of crisis communications firm Red Banyan.

"He may personally be looking for opportunities to rebuild his public profile, but I doubt it's an effort that is being done in coordination with the royal family and its PR apparatus."

This echoes comments made by royal experts Marlene Koenig and Richard Fitzwilliams, who told BI that Andrew will likely never return to royal duties.

"He is not going to have public duties, engagements, or any official role within the royal family. That's not going to happen," Koenig, an expert on British and European royalty, said.

Victoria Arbiter, a royal commentator, previously told BI that it is standard for Andrew to attend church services because they are private events.

Andrew's association with the royals, even in a non-official capacity, is significant when considering the future of the British monarchy, which is funded by the public.

The most recent Sovereign Grant report showed that the royal family cost taxpayers £86.3 million, or about $110.5 million, during the 2022-23 financial year. Nonetheless, it's worth noting that the royals have a positive impact on the UK economy, with one recent estimate by Brand Finance suggesting they could make £958 million during the 2023-24 financial year.

Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider