PRINCE Andrew is plotting a return to royal duties to “serve his country” almost a year after his car-crash Jeffrey Epstein BBC interview.
The duke, 60, stepped back from his duties as a result of his friendship with disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
In November last year, Andrew took part disastrous interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis – during which he denied claims he had sex with Virginia Roberts when she was 17, failed to show sympathy for Epstein’s victims and also claimed he couldn’t sweat.
A source close to Andrew told The Times that he wants to “support the monarchy” and resume his “public role”.
Andrew reportedly wants to “reframe” his role in the royal family and hopes to return to some public duties next year.
He claims to have support from his family – however a royal source told The Times this wasn’t the case.
The source close to Andrew said he was “focusing on the way ahead” but was “philosophical” that he could not “carry on as normal” in a return to public life.
The source said: “The duke is spending time working out how he can serve his country and support the monarchy in the future, and what else he might want to do with his life.
“He’s locked down at Royal Lodge, thinking about his future service and public role. He has some clear thoughts.
“He’s very sensitive to the public mood and acutely conscious that the public are the most important stakeholder.
“He feels he has support from the family, very much so, including all his siblings and his parents.”
A return to a public role for Andrew would need to be negotiated with the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, palace officials and the government.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said there are “no plans to review” Andrew’s status.
According to a senior royal aide, it was unlikely Andrew would return to an “official” role.
The aide said: “There are family discussions about it.
“But while the hurdles around the Epstein case are still hanging over him, it will be difficult for him to represent the family in any capacity as his presence would overshadow the work of the monarchy.”
A royal source added: “The toxicity of his reputation is that he is indelibly associated with Epstein, and he cannot shed that reputation.
“The Queen has a soft spot for Andrew, but the Prince of Wales and Prince William have a bigger say and I can’t see the royal family allowing him a return to any kind of public role.”
Just days after his BBC interview last November, Andrew announced he was stepping back from royal duties “for the foreseeable future”.
HIS ROYAL WHONESS
Prince Andrew’s name was missing from a heavily-redacted deposition given by Ghislaine Maxwell that was released last week.
Maxwell gave the explosive deposition in 2016, and it contains details of the Duke’s infamous London trip – where it is alleged he had sex with Virginia Roberts, a victim of Esptein.
The 418-page trove was part of a 2015 defamation lawsuit brought by Ms Roberts after Maxwell – Epstein’s alleged “madam” – called her a liar.
The defamation civil case was settled in 2017 in Virginia’s favour.
Following Maxwell’s arrest in July, there were calls to make public the contents regarding her relationship with the late financier paedophile.
Prince Andrew’s name was scrubbed from the entire document despite numerous conversations that clearly referred to him.
One of the conversations in the deposition contains details of a guest in her London town house in 2002.
The name of a guest is redacted but it has been widely reported that Virginia met Prince Andrew in London.
He was photographed with his arm around Virginia and Maxwell was also in the shot, in the picture taken at the socialite’s home in the city.
In the deposition Maxwell is asked: “So are you saying that it’s an obvious lie that Virginia’s statement that she had sex with (name redacted) is an obvious lie?”
She replied: “What I’m representing is that her entire ludicrous and absurd story of what took place in my house is an obvious lie.”
She was asked: “Did you ever meet an underage girl in London to introduce her to Jeffrey to provide him with a massage?”
Virginia has alleged that she had sex with the Prince in London after visiting Tramp nightclub.