Prince William declined to comment today as he was asked by a TV reporter whether he supported his disgraced uncle Prince Andrew while on his first joint engagement of the year with wife Kate.
The Duke of Cambridge was leaving the Foundling Museum at Brunswick Square Gardens in London when a journalist from Sky News asked him: ‘Your Royal Highness, could I just ask, do you support Prince Andrew?’
William – who was wearing a face mask – paused, leaned in and pointed to his ear, saying to the reporter: ‘Sorry, I can’t hear you.’ The journalist then asked: ‘Do you support Prince Andrew? Have you spoken to him recently?’
But William simply smiled, said a few inaudible words and put his arm behind his wife Kate’s back as they left the building. A woman was heard saying: ‘We’ve got to move on now’ and another said ‘I’m so sorry’ to the Duchess.
The Duke was visiting the museum which tells the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity which was founded in 1739 as a home for children whose mothers could not keep or care for them.
William and Kate learnt more about the care sector during their visit and met well-known faces who have experience of living in care including poet Lemn Sissay, former athlete Kriss Akabusi and writer Allan Jenkins.
But the 39-year-old Duke declined to say anything about Andrew, six days after the Queen removed her son’s honorary military roles in a dramatic Buckingham Palace statement and he gave up his use of the HRH style.
Palace sources said the move had been widely discussed within the Royal Family following Andrew’s failed bid to persuade a judge to dismiss the civil lawsuit in which he is accused of having sex with a trafficking victim.
Prince Charles and his son William are understood to have been ‘instrumental’ in the move to force him out – with the Prince of Wales speaking to his mother by phone from Scotland last week after the latest court hearing.
Prince William is asked whether he ‘supports Prince Andrew’ while visiting the Foundling Museum in London this afternoon
William pauses and leans in after being asked the question at the museum today, telling the reporter: ‘Sorry, I can’t hear you’
Prince William and his wife Kate then leave the Foundling Museum in London following their visit this afternoon
A woman was heard saying: ‘We’ve got to move on now’ and another said ‘I’m so sorry’ to the Duchess as they left today
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to Foundling Museum director Caro Howell outside the building today
Prince William and Kate smile at each other as they leave the Foundling Museum in London this afternoon
William was at Windsor Castle last Wednesday – the day before Andrew was stripped of his titles – to conduct an investiture on behalf of his grandmother and would have spoken to her personally as well.
A well-placed palace source said last week: ‘It was a ruthless and swift decision which will have been recommended by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge and sanctioned by the Queen.’
Prince Andrew’s disappearing act: Duke deletes his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as he lowers profile
Prince Andrew’s Twitter account has been deleted as pressure intensified on the Queen’s son one week after she removed his honorary military roles.
Social media users visiting the Duke of York’s official Twitter page @thedukeofyork today were greeted with a message saying ‘this account doesn’t exist – try searching for another’ just hours after it was still live yesterday.
The Duke’s Facebook and Instagram accounts – which both have the handle @hrhthedukeofyork – were still live this morning, six days after Andrew lost his titles and gave up his use of the HRH style last Thursday.
However a source close to Andrew told MailOnline today that all of his social media channels had now been removed and were no longer live, but some of them were taking longer to filter through.
The source said: ‘The changes have been made to reflect the recent statement from Buckingham Palace regarding The Duke of York.’
Andrew, who was born an HRH, will not use the style in any official capacity, and was also stripped of his remaining royal patronages in a decision which represented his complete removal from official royal life.
The Queen’s move came one day after the lawsuit against Andrew in New York took a big step forward when a judge threw out his motion to dismiss the sexual assault case against him and ruled it can go to trial.
Today, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Andrew had ’caused enormous challenges for the royal family’, kept ‘horrifically ill-advised’ company and his civil sex case risks overshadowing the Platinum Jubilee.
However he avoided saying whether it was right for the Queen to strip her son of his military roles, adding that as a minister he did not want to comment further as he ‘might risk being too colourful’.
But he told LBC that Andrew had ’caused enormous challenges for the royal family in a year when we should be celebrating the extraordinary service of Her Majesty the Queen as she reaches her Platinum Jubilee’.
It comes as Andrew awaits a civil sex case in the US, with the trial scheduled to take place between September and December.
Virginia Giuffre is suing the duke for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
Ms Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s friend, the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, to have sex with the duke when she was 17 and a minor under US law.
The duke has strenuously denied the allegations.
Ms Giuffre claims Andrew had sex with her against her will at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home and at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and a friend of Andrew, was convicted in the US on December 29 of procuring teenage girls for Epstein to abuse and will be sentenced this summer.
The duke is also alleged to have abused Ms Giuffre on another occasion during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, and on a separate occasion at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Andrew on the Buckingham Palace balcony behind the Queen on June 8, 2019
Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts stand together with Ghislaine Maxwell in the background in London on March 13, 2001
Yesterday, it was revealed that York Racecourse is to rename the Duke of York Stakes in a bid to distance itself from the Queen’s controversial second son.
Even though the prestigious six-furlong sprint was named in 1895 after another Duke of York – Prince George, Duke of York who became King George V – officials at the course are to attempt to make its history clearer.
Calls have also been made for Andrew to lose his York dukedom, which was given to him by his mother on his wedding day in 1986.
James Brennan, the racecourse’s head of marketing and sponsorship, told The Yorkshire Post: ‘It was named in honour of Prince George who went on to become King George V.
‘It has never been directly about Prince Andrew. With that in mind, however, we are going to explore how we can make the name a lot clearer about its history – and that the name refers to an entirely different Duke of York.’
The current favourite as a replacement is the 1895 Duke Of York Stakes. Any change will have to be carried out with the European Pattern Committee, which regulates Group races.