Over the weekend, all anyone could talk about was Princess Beatrice’s low-key wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in Windsor.
Royal fans swooned at the beautiful dress borrowed from her grandmother; the breathtaking flower arch adorning the chapel door; and the poignant image of the Queen and Prince Philip standing a socially-distanced two metres away from the newlyweds.
However, there was one resounding question that threatened to overshadow the big day: where was Bea’s father, Prince Andrew? Despite him being present at the nuptials (he reportedly walked 31-year-old Bea down the aisle) why was the father-of-the-bride excluded from the couple’s official photographs?
Many argued that the Duke, 60, should have been included in the images. But in my opinion, Andrew was right to maintain his low profile, even on his daughter’s wedding day.
No matter what you believe about his relationship with convicted paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, and former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, having images of the Duke plastered all over the internet would frankly have been an insult to Epstein’s long-suffering victims, merely by association.
Andrew himself has acknowledge the need to remain invisible, at least “for the foreseeable future”. Having announced he would be stepping back from public duties in November, he’s barely been seen in public since.
Backtracking on this to appear in Bea’s official wedding photographs would have been both highly inappropriate as well as damaging for the royals. As Andrew said in his statement at the time, the scandal has amounted to “a major disruption” to The Firm.
Then there’s the fact it would have wholeheartedly taken the spotlight away from the bride herself, an innocent party in all of this.
Andrew’s retirement from royal duties came after one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, claimed she had sex with the prince when she was just 17.
Giuffre said she met the royal in 2001, dined with him and danced with him at Tramp Nightclub in London before they had sex in a house in Belgravia, belonging to Maxwell.
The Duke has vehemently denied the accusations, branding them “false”. During his infamous car crash interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight last autumn, he said: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever” adding that it “didn’t happen”.
And when asked about a photograph – which appears to show Andrew standing with his arm around Virginia’s waist – the Duke said he couldn’t explain it, but had “absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken”.
Aside from his pledge to remain out of the spotlight, perhaps the unfortunate timing of Beatrice’s wedding is one of the reasons why the Duke decided to stay out of shot on Friday. After all, Andrew’s association with the scandal has been flung into sharp focus once again after Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire earlier this month in connecting with sex trafficking crimes.
Prosecutors have argued Maxwell – who has pleaded not guilty – was a key part of facilitating Epstein’s horrendous crimes; and that she contributed to the “sexual exploitation that caused deep and lasting harm to vulnerable victims”.
Of course, Andrew may regret that he was not included in her wedding photographs. But my sadness remains reserved for Beatrice, who I hope had a wonderful day regardless.