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The photos of Queen Elizabeth II on the arm of Prince Andrew nearly weren’t taken.
Richard Pohle of The Times U.K. was the sole photographer inside Westminster Abbey on March 29 for the Service of Thanksgiving honoring the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who passed away last year at age 99. He alleged that a Buckingham Palace press officer told him he wasn’t allowed to take photos of the reigning monarch’s arrival. The queen made an appearance on the arm of her disgraced son until she took her seat.
“Naturally, I balked at the order,” Pohle wrote for the outlet. “To an outsider, this may seem reasonable. ‘What’s the problem?’ you may ask. ‘The queen should have some privacy in her advanced age.’ I agree, but when the BBC is broadcasting the entire event to the world I think I should be able to take a picture as the only official photographer. How would she arrive? There was some speculation that she might arrive using a buggy or even a wheelchair. If I had no picture of that I would have the entire British media asking why not.”
The service was the 95-year-old’s first public outing since she suffered several health setbacks, including testing positive for the coronavirus earlier this year. However, Pohle revealed news emerged of Andrew escorting his mother just weeks after settling a sexual assault lawsuit with his accuser Virginia Giuffre.
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“This changed everything,” Pohle wrote. “‘I absolutely need to photograph this,’ I said, ‘The arrival of the queen was now the major news event.’ I could see them wavering, but they repeated that the no picture order ‘came from the top’ and that ‘it wasn’t up to them.'”
Pohle noted that BBC was filming the event for broadcast. Therefore, he should be allowed to capture still photographs of an event that would be aired on TV. He said this prompted a press officer to make a phone call. It was then agreed that Pohle would be granted permission to shoot the arrival.
However, Pohle alleged his troubles were far from over after the request was granted. Pohle claimed he was positioned across from where the royal family members were seated. When attendees stood for the queen and Andrew’s arrival, he was unable to see them.
“Desperation dictated I do something quickly,” he recalled. “As the choir started up I jumped off my footstool and moved quickly to the aisle between the rows of seats opposite where the queen would walk. Suddenly moving from an official position while on a royal rota is the most cardinal of sins. I brushed past the press officer and could feel a hand reach out to try and stop me, but I rushed past and crouched in the center of the aisle.”
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Pohle said he got his shots once the clergy walking ahead of mother and son turned at the end of the aisle.
“I knew it would be the main picture from the ceremony that the news outlets were looking for,” he said. “I went back to my official position passing the frowning press officer and whispered an apology.”
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
The reigning monarch’s choice of escort was seen as support for her son after he settled a lawsuit linked to his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the late convicted sex offender.
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Andrew’s role underscored that he is still a member of the royal family, even after the scandal rocked the palace.
“This was the queen endorsing Andrew after he paid millions to a woman he says he has no recollection of ever meeting,” royal analyst Peter Hunt wrote on Twitter. “Either [Prince] Charles and [Prince] William didn’t intervene – or they did and failed to stop the prince performing such a high-profile role at his father’s memorial service.’’
The 62-year-old strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations after she sued him. She accused the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with Epstein in 2001 when she was 17.
Giuffre, 38, reached the settlement with Andrew after the judge rejected the prince’s bid to win early dismissal of the lawsuit earlier this year.
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In a letter to the judge from Giuffre’s attorney David Boies, a statement was included that said, in part: “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”
According to the statement, Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said the prince “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”
He also pledged to support victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew.
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Her lawsuit said she suffered significant emotional and psychological distress and harm. She has alleged she had sex with Andrew three times: in London during a 2001 trip, at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the Virgin Islands when she was 18.
Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her, although a photograph of Giuffre and Andrew together in a London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff, was included in Giuffre’s lawsuit against him.
Inconsistencies in her statements over the years that would have been highlighted by Andrew’s attorneys at trial may have motivated her, in part, to settle, though she has explained them as innocent mistakes that occurred when recalling traumatic events years later.
Andrew spent years combating concerns about his links with Epstein, the U.S. financier who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges in December 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.