Prince Andrew, who had to step back as a senior British royal in 2019 due to public uproar surrounding his alleged involvement with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, reportedly hopes that his father Prince Philip's funeral will pave his way back into public life.
The funeral will be the first time Andrew will be publicly seen with his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and the rest of the senior royals since his disgraced exit as a working royal. The Duke of York had to skip official events, as well as wearing his honorary military uniforms, after his banishment which followed a disastrous interview he gave to Newsnight in November 2019 denying his involvement in the scandal.
On Sunday, the Duke appeared in front of the camera for the first time since the fiasco to pay tribute to his late father. "We've lost the grandfather of the nation," he said, as he left a private service at Windsor, adding a remark from his mother who described her husband's demise as "having left a huge void in her life."
According to a report in Mail Online by Dan Wootton, the father-of-two has become "increasingly confident" about his return to some royal duties following his on-camera appearance, and believes that the public will "soften their stance towards him." His supporters also hope that the public will sympathise with him when they see him with the rest of the family grieving at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral on Saturday.
He has also been insisting on a full role in the funeral preparations and will be using his said status as the "Queen's favourite son" to support her as she deals with her grief. However, he doesn't have the support of some senior royal courtiers, as well as his elder brother Prince Charles, who doesn't believe there is a way back for him to his royal duties.
"While they acknowledge Andrew has a right to attend his father's service, they do not think it should provide a springboard back to other high profile 'Buckingham Palace balcony' events," Wootton writes.
Regardless, his relations with the Queen behind the scenes remain as strong as ever. A source close to the 61-year-old said: "Despite the fact he's, to all intents and purposes, finished as a working royal, he's still extremely close to the Queen. He talks to her almost on a daily basis. He will be extremely supportive to her in the coming days, weeks and months. He's still her favourite son, despite all the problems. He will be right there for her at this darkest hour."
The insider confirmed that the military veteran "still harbours thoughts that he can make a comeback" and "genuinely thinks that's possible." He is also optimistic with reports that Epstein's associate Ghislaine Maxwell won't be calling him to appear as a witness in the FBI investigation.
"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. 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," the source said.
However, his brother Charles, the heir apparent to the British throne, doesn't share his sentiments. A royal source said: "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."
The source noted that he wasn't stopped from going on camera about his father's demise only because he did it in a "private capacity because this is a family event."