Prince Andrew today made his first major appearance abroad since the scandal over his former friendship with Jeffrey Epstein re-emerged to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bruges. The Duke of York flew to the Belgian city in the morning to honour the historic occasion in his official role as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, which he took over from his father the Duke of Edinburgh in 2017. He was a guest of Prince Laurent of Belgium, the brother of King Phillipe, and the pair later inspected a guard of honour in the market square while both countries national anthems played. But Andrew, 59, reportedly needed help hooking the wreath on the stand at the Bruges Charles II memorial from an official who noticed him fumble in front of the bank of photographers. It was the duke’s most significant public engagement since his former friend Epstein was found hanged in his cell on August 10 in New York, while facing fresh charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. Some of Andrew’s scheduled appearances in Northern Ireland were cancelled amid the controversy this week. His invitation to events along the North Antrim, including a ceremony at the newly upgraded Portrush railway station, will not now take place causing speculation about the reasons. The Duke of York, in his role as colonel of the Grenadier Guards, lays a wreath at the Charles II memorial in Bruges Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA A Palace spokesperson blamed the postponement on timing issues, due to the prince’s participation in the annual Duke Of York Young Champions Trophy being hosted at Royal Portrush Golf Club. Buckingham Palace has issued strong denials over allegations made by Virginia Roberts in court papers in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17. Andrew has categorically denied any wrongdoing. He has recently made several understated appearances, including being photographed by the side of the Queen on their way to church at Balmoral, which was widely seen as a show of support from her. Last week, he undertook an official engagement at the Dartmouth Royal Regatta, attending its 175th anniversary celebrations as its patron. The Grenadiers have been associated with the city of Bruges since King Charles II formed a royal regiment there in 1656.
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