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'It's pathetic to exploit coronavirus to creep back into the spotlight': Royal expert slams Prince Andrew's 'cynical photo op' as he is seen in public for first time in three months in Instagram post packing charity donations with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson

'It's pathetic to exploit coronavirus to creep back into the spotlight': Royal expert slams Prince Andrew's 'cynical photo op' as he is seen in public for first time in three months in Instagram post packing charity donations with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson
  • Prince Andrew was seen making care packages for Thames Hospice in Windsor
  • He was later seen presenting hospice with donation in the social media images 
  • The Duke was last seen in public at a church service in Sandringham in January
  • But royal expert Tom Bower says the prince is trying to 'creep into the spotlight'
A royal expert has slammed Prince Andrew for 'exploiting coronavirus to creep back into the spotlight' after he surfaced publicly for the first time in nearly three months.
The Duke of York, 60, was seen packing cupcakes into gift bags to be donated to Thames Hospice in Windsor in a series of photographs posted to Instagram.
The photographs, which show him with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson at their Windsor home, were posted by Ms Ferguson's assistant Antonia Marshall last night.
The images mark Andrew's first public appearance since he attended church in Sandringham, Norfolk with the Queen in January. 
Prince Andrew was later spotted arriving at a memorial service for Sir Malcolm Ross at St George's Chapel in Windsor last month, though his attendance was not acknowledged in the official record of royal events, the Court Circular. 
The Prince was forced to quit frontline royal duties in November following a car-crash Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, in which he failed to apologise for befriending billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
However the Prince Andrew's most recent appearance has drawn criticism from one royal watcher.
The Duke of York, 60, was seen packing cupcakes into gift bags for the Thames Hospice in Windsor in a series of photographs posted to Instagram (pictured) last night
The Duke of York, 60, was seen packing cupcakes into gift bags for the Thames Hospice in Windsor in a series of photographs posted to Instagram (pictured) last night
Royal biographer Tom Bower said it was 'rather pathetic that he (Prince Andrew) exploits the coronavirus crisis to creep back into the spotlight'.
He said: 'He should do good works but not seek to win kudos by posting trashy photos.
'If only they would both accept that their only public duty is to remain invisible from the public.'
Another legal watcher, Richard Fitzwilliams, said Prince Andrew's actions were 'admirable'.
He said: 'This is the sort of thing he (Prince Andrew) ought to be doing. 
'When someone does something like this it's very very clear it should be appreciated.'
However, Mr Fitzwilliams said Prince Andrew was still likely to face scrutiny over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, which led him to step down from front-line royal duties.
The images mark the first time the Duke has been seen with the Duchess of York since making that announcement. 
In the caption, Ms Marshall explained the pair were packing Easter care packages of cakes and biscuits to give to those at the nearby Thames Hospice. 
'Sarah Ferguson and the Duke of York packing all the care packages for the Thames Hospice in Windsor today,' she said.
'The York Family are a wonderful and steadfast unit and through this crisis, are continuously helping others. So proud of them all...' 
Another photograph captured Prince Andrew as he arrived at the hospice to present the bright pink gift bags to residents and staff.
It is believed the majority of the photographs were taken at the Duke's home in Winsdor, Berkshire - the Royal Lodge - where he and Sarah are thought to be staying together amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.     
Andrew was last spotted in public in January, when he attended church in Sandringham with the Queen.
Although he cut a solemn figure as he marched into church, Andrew seemed pleased with his appearance at the Queen's side and was pictured grinning as he was whisked away from the service.   
The images also mark the first time the Duke has been seen with the Duchess of York since he stepped down from his royal duties three months ago
In the caption, Ms Marshall explained the pair were packing Easter care packages of cakes and biscuits to give to those at the nearby Thames Hospice
In the caption, Ms Marshall explained the pair were packing Easter care packages of cakes and biscuits to give to those at the nearby Thames Hospice
During Prince Andrew's interview with Emily Maitliss, The Duke of York said he did not recall meeting alleged sex-slave Virginia Roberts – now known as Virginia Giuffre - and emphatically denied that he had sex with her.   
The royal also denied sweating heavily on the dance floor at Tramp nightclub with her, on the basis he had suffered from a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. 
Andrew then sought to cast doubt on the authenticity of a photograph that showed him with his arm around Miss Roberts' waist, but conceded that it was difficult to prove if it was a fake. 
Andrew was last spotted in public in January, when he attended church in Sandringham with the Queen
Sarah Ferguson has urged her fans to find 'gold-hearted strength' and 'keep focused on small steps to victory' amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The Duchess of York, 60, has been using Instagram to keep in contact with her 262,000 followers.
It comes after Fergie, along with daughter Princess Eugenie and son-in-law Jack Brooksbank, made a secret mercy dash to deliver supplies to frontline NHS staff last week to help during the crisis.
Sharing the post with her followers yesterday, she wrote: 'Hold with golden-hearted strength and keep focused on small steps to victory.
'To reach the summit, it takes mini steps, through many valleys, perseverance and patience and you will get there.
Royal biographer Tom Bower (pictured) said it was 'rather pathetic that he (Prince Andrew) exploits the coronavirus crisis to creep back into the spotlight'.
Royal biographer Tom Bower (pictured) said it was 'rather pathetic that he (Prince Andrew) exploits the coronavirus crisis to creep back into the spotlight'.
'The light would not be so bright without the shadow.'
It is not known where the photographs were taken, but the Duchess has previously shared snaps of snowy mountain scenes taken from her home in Verbier.
Last month, Fergie claimed Mother Nature has 'taken back control' and 'sent us to our rooms like spoilt children' on Instagram.
She shared a snap of a blossom tree alongside the thoughtful message, believed to have been taken at her home with Prince Andrew at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
 Her former husband was forced to step down from his royal duties following allegations made by Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein. 
She said in an interview with BBC Panorama that she was left 'horrified and ashamed' after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.
She alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.
The duke categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre.
American authorities still investigating Epstein, who committed suicide in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, want to interview the Queen's son.
US lawyer Geoffrey Berman, who is leading the Epstein inquiry, said in March: 'Contrary to Prince Andrew's very public offer to co-operate with our investigation into Epstein's co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation and our office is considering its options.'
The duke stepped down from royal duties in November following a disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with Epstein.
Following the interview, he was accused of failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier, and empathy with his victims.

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