The Duke of York has paid tribute to the Queen in an emotional statement on the eve of her funeral that began: “Dear Mummy, Mother, Your Majesty, three in one.”
Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second-eldest son, who has been stripped of royal duties over his relationship with the convicted sexual abuser Jeffrey Epsteinsaid: “Your Majesty, it has been an honor and privilege to serve you.
“Mother of the nation, your devotion and personal service to our nation is unique and singular; Your people show their love and respect in so many different ways and I know you are looking on, honoring their respect.
“Mummy, your love for a son, your compassion, your care, your confidence I will treasure forever. I have found your knowledge and wisdom infinite, with no boundary or containment. I will miss your insights, advice and humour.”
The statement was circulated by a public relations advisor who has been assisting the duke during the scandal over Epstein and the sexual assault case filed against Andrew in the US by Virginia Guiffre, which he settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Alongside it was a photograph of the Queen holding the infant Andrew shortly after his birth in 1960, her cheek resting on his head.
The duke has not been allowed to wear military uniform during ceremonies in the wake of the Queen’s death on 8 September, as he is no longer a working royal, a consequence of the Epstein scandal.
The out-of-court settlement in February involved no admission of guilt over Giuffre’s claims he sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17, claims he has repeatedly denied.
The Duke of York will walk alongside his older sister, Anne, the Princess Royal; his younger brother, the Duke of Wessex, and King Charles III behind the Queen’s coffin on Monday when it is taken from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey.
He will take up the same position again from the Abbey to Wellington Arch before a transfer by car to St George’s Chapel at Windsor for a service of committal and then private interment of the Queen alongside Prince Philip on Sunday at 7.30pm.
He concluded his statement: “As our book of experiences closes, another opens, and I will forever hold you close to my heart with my deepest love and gratitude, and I will gladly tread into the next with you as my guide. God save the King.”
It follows a personal statement on Saturday from his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, to their “dearest Grannie”, which described her as “our matriarch, our guide, our loving hand on our backs leading us through this world”.
“We’re so happy you’re back with Grandpa,” they said. “Goodbye dear Grannie, it has been the honor of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we’re so very proud of you. We know that dear Uncle Charles, the King, will continue to lead in your example as he too has dedicated his life to service.”
On Friday, the Earl of Wessex, the Queen’s youngest son, used his statement to describe the “unimaginable void in all our lives” left by the Queen’s death.
“Sophie [Countess of Wessex] and I have taken huge pleasure in seeing our James and Louise [their children] enjoying the places and activities that their grandparents loved so much. Given that my mama let us spend so much time with her, I think she also rather enjoyed watching those passions blossom.”