Smirking Prince Andrew ‘super happy’ to lead royal family while King Charles is in crisis

Prince Andrew was grinning like the Cheshire Cat as he led members of the British royal family in a procession this week, with his loyal ex-wife Sarah Ferguson by his side.

The smug Duke of York, 64, walked ahead of a group that included his and Fergie’s daughter Princess Beatrice and Princess Anne, attending a memorial for King Constantine of Greece.

It’s an amazing comeback for the man whose own mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, was forced to ban him from public life because of ties to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. 

Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, beamed as they led the pack at the memorial for King Constantine of Greece on Tuesday. AP

For a while, King Charles — who has long made clear that he wanted to cut the number of paid working royals — was able to relegate his disgraced brother to the background.

But now there’s no one to hide him behind.

The slimline plan has seemingly backfired, as both Charles, 75, and his daughter-in-law Kate Middleton — regarded as one of the most popular and most photogenic members of the royal family — have been sidelined by emergency health issues: He is undergoing treatment for an undisclosed cancer, while the Princess of Wales, 42, is still recovering from January’s major abdominal surgery and not expected to be seen until after Easter.

Kate’s husband, Prince William, 41, was set to represent the family at the memorial for Constantine, his beloved godfather, at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, but pulled out just 45 minutes beforehand due to a “personal matter.”

Not only have the recent weeks shown that the royals are, indeed, human, but Charles’ plans to streamline the monarchy threatens to upend the very system he has tried to modernize.

Noted historian Hugo Vickers, who was at the memorial, told Page Six of the royals: “At the moment, there aren’t enough of them to go around.”

Despite being banned from public life, the Duke of York walked in front of his family — including Sarah Ferguson, Commander Tim Lawrence, Zara Tindall, Mike Tyndall and Princess Anne. Heathcliffe O’Malley-Telegraph/POOL supplied by Splash News / SplashNews.com
Queen Camilla was by the side of widow Queen Anne Marie of Greece (right) at the memorial for King Constantine. They were joined by Princess Anne (left). Getty Images

Although Andrew, who remains eighth in line to the throne, was seen happily striding out front, inside the chapel the pecking order was clear: It was actually 76-year-old Queen Camilla — in the absence of the king — who observed the royal convention of taking her seat after everyone else.

But, as always, public perception is everything.

Although they walked in the same door, the queen was driven directly to the chapel, while Andrew led a group on a walk from Windsor Castle and had his photo blasted everywhere.

“Andrew would have been super happy,” said one source who knows him, of the opportunity. “He loves all of this pomp. He may not be a working royal, but he’s always believed that he is a valid and important member of the royal family, and nothing has changed.”

Kate Middleton was last seen on Christmas Day before having major abdominal surgery. She’s seen here with Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, at her Christmas carol concert in London on December 8. MEGA
William accepted flowers for his ailing wife this week as he attended an antisemitism event in London. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

As Page Six has reported, Andrew relies on Charles to pay his security bills and still refuses to leave his lavish 30-room home, Royal Lodge — even though insiders say they don’t understand just how he can afford it anymore.

Once a glamorous, hero helicopter pilot in the Falklands War, the Duke of York lost all his military titles in 2022 after being forced to pay a multi-million settlement to Epstein victim accuser Virginia Roberts Guiffre, who said the prince had sex with her when she was 17.

He has always denied this claim.

But even before that, the shock departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle back in 2020 depleted the royal ranks, leaving fewer of them to be the day-to-day public faces.

King Charles was emotional as he looked at cards and messages of support from the public following his cancer diagnosis. AP

As Page Six has revealed, Harry, 39, would be more than happy to pitch in again if asked by his father — but, for now, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are working on entertainment projects for what is set to be the final year of their Netflix deal.

Instead, the king and queen are left asking relatives who would have collected their AARP card years ago to help out, including Charles’ cousins, the little-known septuagenarian Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Estranged brothers Prince William and Prince Harry have not spoken in over a year. TheImageDirect.com

“You have Harry and Meghan, who are serving themselves — not his country — while the Gloucesters are getting nothing out of it but are working hard,” Vickers added.

He explained that Charles had decided to cut the monarchy as a way to remain popular.

“Going back to the Trooping the Colour [a public ceremony celebrating the ruling monarch’s birthday], it was the one day every year when the late queen invited her extended family to join her on the balcony at Buckingham Palace — so the man on the street thought they were paying taxes for all of them,” Vickers said. “In reality, only the queen and Prince Philip were paid for directly by the taxpayer.”

The coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla was supposed to herald a new reign — but the royal family has been plunged into a fresh crisis of health issues. BACKGRID
Although they have charity projects, palace insiders don’t think Princesses Eugenie (left) and Beatrice (right) will be asked to become working royals. REUTERS

“The Prince and Princess of Wales are supported by the Duchy of Cornwall [a private estate]; the queen paid for all the rest of them,” he added. “However, the optics were wrong, so the king went for a slimmed down monarchy.”

Pragmatic Princess Anne — who takes on more engagements than any other royal — said before her brother’s May 2023 coronation, however: “It doesn’t sound like a good idea from where I’m standing, I would say. I’m not quite sure what else we can do.”

And while older minor royals are now being called up to the big leagues, the big question is: Just who are the younger royals who can step up? After all, glamour and youth sell.

Meghan Markle shares a smile with King Charles in happier times at the 2019 Commonwealth service in London. Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Images/Alamy Images/Sipa USA

“We’ve got a hell time to wait for Princess Charlotte to step forward,” one palace insider said, “and she’s bound to be the saving grace of the monarchy.”

Charles’ nephews and nieces are not working royals, and his grandson Prince George — now second in line to the throne — is only 10 years old.

Princess Charlotte, for that matter, is just 8.

Two names that have come up are Princess Beatrice, 35, or Princess Eugenie, 33, but one highly-placed palace source told Page Six that they have been “tarnished” by their father, Andrew.

A tired-looking Charles waves to the crowds alongside his wife, Camilla, at Sandringham in February. Getty Images

“It seems unlikely it will be Beatrice and Eugenie … [Princess Anne’s] children could help, but are not even titled royals,” said a senior palace insider of popular equestrian Zara Tindall, 42, and businessman Peter Phillips, 42, whose mother chose not to give them Princess and Prince titles in an effort to make their lives “easier.”

Still, another London society source who knows the York family well, said with a sigh: “It is all looking a bit thin, isn’t it? And they could really make Beatrice and Eugenie working royals.

“A lot of people fear that this current model doesn’t look very sustainable, and the king is very fond of his nieces,” said the source of Beatrice and Eugenie, who are patrons of various charities including the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Charles wanted a slimline monarchy — but his plans have been turned upside down, and there are hardly any young working royals. Getty Images

For now, Camilla — who has had an incredible rise to power after having been Charles’ longtime mistress — is in charge.

“The queen is really holding the whole show together. She’s really doing a fantastic job,” said Vickers, “She’s also having to hold the show together privately at home, while the king is going to be worrying about not being able to do as much as he wanted.

“It must be difficult. It’s not what she was expecting, to be the person at the center of it. And this week, she was the person escorting Queen Ann-Marie of Greece [Constantine’s widow], and doing a very good job,” said Vickers.

Charles wanted the future of the monarchy to only focus on his children, their descendants and his siblings. His immediate family is seen at Prince Louis’ christening in June 2018. AP

It remains to be seen how long it will be before Kate is able to make regular appearances following her surgery, though a rep told Page Six that the Princess of Wales is “doing well.”

Nonetheless, Prince William’s cancellation this week sparked public fears that something was terribly wrong with his wife.

The rep would only add that the Princess of Wales, 42, is “doing well.”

Queen Camilla (far right) and Prince Andrew (third from left) were seated five seats apart at the memorial for King Constantine of Greece. Getty Images
Historian Hugo Vickers – far right – accompanied the Duke of Gloucester (behind him) to the memorial service for King Constantine.

And even though, as Vickers said, “The king has never been keen on the family doing ‘celebrity-style’ events,” the truth is that a healthy dose of glamour had recharged the royal family’s popularity in recent years.

“The sad thing is that when King Charles came along, the royal family was re-energized. Suddenly Buckingham Palace was in action again,” said the senior palace insider. “But now it is a case of illness putting so many out of action.”