British Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth makes a surprise public appearance with Prince Andrew amidst royal upheaval

The Monarch was attending her regular Sunday service in Sandringham.

By Jess Pullar
Queen Elizabeth II stepped out with her son Prince Andrew on Sunday, marking the first time she has publically appeared with him since the scandal surrounding his connection to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein peaked.
Attending church in Sandringham on Sunday is no new feat for Her Majesty, but all eyes were on the Monarch more so than usual given she had released another unprecedented statement just hours beforehand.
The Queen and her 59-year-old son were all smiles as they left the church after attending the service.
Prince Andrew famously stepped back from his royal duties last November following his "train-wreck" interview with the BBC, where his justifications for his relations with Epstein were met with disgrace.
As a number of his charities and those close to the royal cut ties with him, the Prince issued a bombshell statement: "I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission."
The Queen surprised royal watchers as she stepped out with her son, Prince Andrew, on Sunday. (Getty)
Since he stepped back, Andrew has very rarely been seen in public.
On Christmas day, he attended a separate, more private service to the one the rest of his family attended at Sandringham.
But on Sunday, it seemed the Prince was certainly done with hiding away. He was front and centre with the Queen, seen speaking and smiling to people as they left together.
The surprising appearance came at a tumultuous time for the royals - on Saturday evening, the Monarch delivered a personal statement regarding Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's future, which has been in question since they made the shock announcement that they wished to break away as senior royals and become financially independent.
The Queen issued a rare personal statement about Harry and Meghan just hours before stepping out with her son. (Getty)
The Queen wrote an unusually personal message pertaining to her grandson, stating: "Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family."
"I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life," she added.
She also commented on how proud she was of Meghan because of how quickly she become one of the family.
The statement also included an official note from the Palace which explained that Harry and Meghan would no longer use their HRH titles, given they are no longer working members of the royal family.
WATCH: Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan share their favourite moments from 2019. Story continues...
It's an interesting move from the Queen to step out with Prince Andrew immediately following this extraordinary royal furore, which has overtaken headlines in recent weeks, and certainly shifted the focus from Andrew himself.
Andrew has also been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old a number of years ago, but the Prince has since vehemently denied it.
Whether Andrew's appearance with his mother was a pointed move to show solidarity within the royals is something we'll never know for sure, but it certainly reminds us that there is a lot going on behind closed doors.