Her Majesty the Queen has dismissed a request from her second son Prince Andrew for her to step aside and allow him to deliver the traditional televised Christmas message from Buckingham Palace.
My royal sources told me that His Royal Highness the Duke of York approached his mother a week ago during final discussions with the BBC over her annual message which is to be recorded in coming weeks for telecast around the world on Christmas Day.
“The Prince has been spending almost every hour of every day locked away in one of Buckingham Palace’s libraries (main picture) drafting a script for his Christmas message which he saw as an opportunity to vindicate himself,” one senior courtier told me.
“His Royal Highness is feeling very jaded after the extremely poor public response to his recent BBC Newsnight interview over his links to the late Jeffrey Epstein.
“He has been stopped by Her Majesty and Prince Charles from attempting another sit-down interview to fix up the mess he made of the first.
“So Prince Andrew thought he might try to use the opportunity of the worldwide Queen’s Christmas Message to once again put his side of the story about his involvement with that dreadful Mr Epstein.
“He argued with Her Majesty that it would not be breach of protocol if he substituted for her in delivering the royal message.
“He said it would give him the excuse to talk for several minutes about the useful duties he had performed throughout the previous year and help shift the focus from the Epsetin scandal.
“When asked by Her Majesty what the duties he might talk about could be, the Prince thought very hard in silence for many moments before excusing himself and returning to the library to stare for a long time at a blank computer screen.
“In the end he returned to press his case again with Her Majesty, this time suggesting that if he delivered the Christmas message it could be filmed against the background of a shooting weekend at one of the royal country estates, ‘a straightforward shooting weekend’, as the Prince put it.
“That way, the Prince argued, viewers could see him killing small wild animals which he believed would change the public’s view of him for the better.
“But in the end Her Majesty put her foot down and declared she would continue the tradition of delivering the Christmas message herself.
“Prince Andrew was most upset at what he saw was a lost opportunity to rebuild his public image.
“But Her Majesty showed one of her rare flashes of maternal grace when she told him: ‘Don’t sweat it’,” my source told me.