Prince Andrew is “increasingly confident” he will be able to return to royal duties and “save his reputation”, reports suggest.
The Duke of York hopes the public will soften their stance towards him as he consoles the Queen following the death of her husband, Prince Philip, sources close to him have claimed.
The disgraced 61-year-old has been kept firmly out of the public gaze since a car crash Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew spoke publicly for the first time in over a year on Sunday, saying the Duke of Edinburgh’s death had left a “huge void” in his mother’s life.
Some reports suggest that Andrew fronted up to television cameras in Windsor because he is increasingly confident that he will be able to reclaim some of his royal duties in the future.
A source close to Prince Andrew told the Daily Mail: “He still harbours thoughts that he can make a comeback. He genuinely thinks that’s possible.”
The source added: “He hopes the public, if he’s supporting his mother in this difficult time, might give him the benefit of the doubt. He hopes there is a way back.”
Andrew’s allies hope Brits will sympathise with him as he grieves at Prince Andrew’s televised funeral on Saturday.
However Prince Charles – who is expected to occupy a much more assertive role within the family after Philip’s death – is said to be against such a return to public life, believing that there is “no way back” for his brother.
A royal source told the Mail: ‘Prince Andrew might hope that this sad situation changes things, but Prince Charles is adamant there is no way back while allegations hang over him.
“He spoke on camera in a private capacity because this is a family event. No one can stop him doing that.”
Buckingham Palace is said to be “rattled” by Andrew’s comeback plans, with senior courtiers apparently hesitant about the funeral acting as a springboard back to the spotlight.
But the Duke of York’s friends are said to be cheered by claims that Ghislaine Maxwell – Epstein’s alleged accomplice – will not call him as a witness at her trial, even if he remains under suspicion due to his refusal to grant the FBI an interview.
The source said: “It’s promising that Ghislane doesn’t appear to plan to call him as a witness. He still does believe in his heart of hearts that he can return and that time will be a healer. He thinks he will be able to resume royal duties at some point and save his reputation.”
News of Andrew’s plans was greeted with a fairly muted response, a stark contrast to the opprobrium with which some commentators responded to Prince Harry’s tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
Harry described his grandfather as “a man of service, honour and great humour” – and the “legend of banter”. The Duke of Sussex is quarantining at Frogmore Cottage, having returned from the US to attend the funeral without Meghan, his wife, who is heavily pregnant.
Nigel Farage accused the couple of showing “contempt for [a] great man and the monarchy” after they released an initial tribute to Philip on their website, adding: “The British public will not welcome Harry and Meghan back, even for the funeral.”