Prince Andrew 'Overshadowed' His Father's Memorial—Meghan Markle Biographer

Meghan Markle's biographer Omid Scobie has said the decision that Prince Andrew would walk his mother Queen Elizabeth II to her seat at the thanksgiving service for Prince Philip "completely overshadowed" the event on Tuesday.

Scobie, co-author of the biography Finding Freedom, spoke to Newsweek's chief royal correspondent Jack Royston and royal commentator Kristen Meinzer in a newly released episode of The Royal Report podcast.

Andrew's prominent role at the Westminster Abbey service has sparked a wave of negative reporting. The 95-year-old monarch was accompanied by her second son, who has not attended a public event since he settled a sexual assault lawsuit brought against him by Virginia Giuffre.

It also follows scrutiny of the royal family in the wake of Prince William and Kate Middleton's disaster-stricken tour of the Caribbean.

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After Meinzer described Andrew's position at the event as "inexplicable," Scobie said: "You would think that this would be the week that the royals would want to pivot and avoid negative headlines."

Meghan and Prince Harry's biographer added that he believes Andrew is "still a man that has shown no accountability for his role in anything. So, I think the public opinion and the sentiment towards him—or the lack of—is exactly the same."

Andrew has denied the sexual assault allegations against him, but was forced to step down as a working royal amid Giuffre's accusations and criticisms of his friendship with the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

His appearance at the abbey would have provoked anger in the public, according to Scobie. "It enraged people because we wanted to support the queen at that moment. We wanted it to be her day and it was a beautiful service," he said.

"I at that moment just felt angry because I knew where this was all going to head. The focus would move over to Andrew, the service itself would be completely overshadowed and that's exactly what happened."

The behind-the-scenes machinations that led to the prince taking a central role on Tuesday are unclear. Scobie believes it may have its roots in Andrew's hope to rehabilitate his image as a member of the royal family before the queen's jubilee celebrations this summer.

He told Royston and Meinzer: "Some argue that that was him just wanting to look after his mother and others are saying that this was a PR grab. We know that Andrew has been very keen to move on from mistakes from the past and is probably quite keen to play a role in the jubilee this summer, so he doesn't have much time to try and repair his image.

"I think that it's clear that there aren't enough people thinking of the crown in this situation. This reflects so badly on the institution and Andrew has done so much damage in the last few years and continues to do so."

Royston asked the royal commentators why Andrew's legal team had settled Giuffre's suit if his appearance at the service was bad for the monarchy and he would still be excluded from the jubilee celebrations.

Scobie replied: "Paying off that settlement … was supposed to put an end to Andrew potentially harming the establishment, but actually what we saw at the thanksgiving service was him getting in that one extra hit that will surely be the first of a number throughout this year.

"For Andrew to be there was almost disrespectful to the entire situation. He's only just paid millions to a woman he says he has no recollection of even meeting and it raises the question of who's actually involved in these decisions."

The discussion then turned to the jubilee celebrations and whether Andrew could take part. Scobie warned: "If this happens again in the summer it's going to completely overshadow the most important moment of the queen's legacy thus far."

Prince Andrew Prince Philip Memorial
Prince Andrew's central role at the Westminster Abbey service on Tuesday "overshadowed" the memorial for his father, according to royal author Omid Scobie. Andrew photographed in London on March 7, 2011. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images