Has Edward stopped riding at Windsor to avoid Prince Andrew? Earl of Wessex is not seen on a horse in Windsor Great Park for at least four months
Prince Edward has not been seen riding in Windsor Great Park for at least four months amid signs that members of the Royal Family are keen to distance themselves from Prince Andrew, who has taken to riding there almost every day.
Edward is normally a regular fixture in the park, where he stables several horses.
However, he has stayed away since his older brother, who is facing hotly disputed sex abuse allegations in the US, was caught smiling for the cameras.
A Palace source last night insisted that there was no feud, that relations were ‘fine’ between the Queen’s two younger sons and Edward has merely been ‘too busy’ to ride.
Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex visit to Forfar Golf Club in Scotland
Andrew arriving at Windsor and then riding in Windsor Castle this week
Poignant Christmas card hints at his hurt over titles
The Wessexes’ Christmas card this year poignantly features a photograph of Edward and Sophie with Prince Philip and the caption: ‘In memory of happy days’
The Wessexes’ Christmas card this year poignantly features a photograph of Edward and Sophie with Prince Philip and the caption: ‘In memory of happy days.’
Another image shows Edward in a kilt of Forfar tartan beside his wife on the Forfar golf course in Scotland.
The 57-year-old received the title Earl of Forfar on his 55th birthday but was not granted, as expected, the titles Duke of Edinburgh and Ranger of Windsor Great Park after his father’s death in April.
It is understood that Charles wishes to reduce the number of titles extended to those not in the direct line to the throne.
A source said: ‘Missing out on the titles have been a blow to Edward, who has worked so hard for the Royal Family.
‘He is far too gracious to say how hurt he is by it but suffice to say it is a disappointment.’
But an insider close to the Wessexes said that Edward had stopped riding in part because of ‘the Andrew problem’.
‘Edward doesn’t think it is wise to be seen anywhere near Andrew at the moment and he certainly has nothing he wants to say to him about the case,’ said the insider.
Edward’s daughter Lady Louise, 18, a talented horsewoman who inherited her grandfather Prince Philip’s custom-made carriage, has also largely stayed away. Instead of weekly lessons and regular rides with her father, a source said she had been seen ‘only very occasionally’.
A source at Windsor Great Park, close to the town’s castle, said: ‘Barely a weekend went by in the past few years when you didn’t see Edward and Lady Louise out riding, but not anymore. You ask around and Edward hasn’t been seen here for at least four months.’
Edward, 57, who lives in nearby Bagshot Park, keeps horses at the Windsor stables and had been expected to be given the title of Ranger of Windsor Great Park after his father’s death in April.
Prince Philip held the position for nearly 70 years and members of the family assumed it would pass to Edward. Last night, however, a Palace source said ‘a decision has not yet been made’.
The absence of the Earl of Wessex, who has long been considered a ‘bridge’ between his older brothers, presents a bigger problem for the Royal Family.
If the Royals’ Christmas does go ahead at Sandringham, the shadow of Andrew’s looming US court battle is likely to hang over the festivities. The Duke’s lawyers are expected to seek the dismissal of a civil case brought by Virginia Giuffre during a hearing on January 4.
Andrew vehemently denies claims by Ms Giuffre, 38, that she was forced to have sex with him on three occasions at the behest of US serial paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke is expected to join the family at Sandringham, if Covid-19 restrictions permit, but would be unlikely to join them at church, choosing instead to discreetly attend an earlier services. This was his preferred option in 2019 after his ‘car crash’ Newsnight interview.
It is thought he will not be joined by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who was banned for her indiscretions by the Duke of Edinburgh. Speaking on an Italian daytime TV show to promote her latest book last week, she said she had not spent Christmas with daughters Beatrice and Eugenie for 26 years, but added: ‘I’m quite happy to give my children as gifts to Her Majesty. She deserves my children.
‘You know, I’m used to it. For 26 years, I’ve not spent Christmas with my children. If you leave the Royal Family, you can’t have it both ways.’