It has been three months since Queen Elizabeth II's son Prince Andrew decided to step back from his role as a senior member of the royal family. It is after the Duke of York received a massive backlash due to his association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In his official statement, the 59-year-old Prince said that he asked the Queen's permission to "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future."
He added that his connection with the infamous sexual offender became a "major disruption" to both the royal family and the charity and organization he supports.
Since then, the father-of-two has kept a low profile and has been rarely seen in public, except during Sunday service with his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
However, Prince Andrew appears to have resumed his royal duties last week and had a meeting with China's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming. The somehow private royal meeting took place during the Chinese New Year at Liu's residence.
Aside from Prince Andrew, other members of his family -- including his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, daughters, and future son-in-law Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi -- were also in the said unofficial royal meeting.
What seems to be an innocent meeting between representatives from two different countries caused stir after the ambassador posted a message on Twitter that was supposed to be Queen Elizabeth's message to the Chinese people.
According to Liu, the Duke of York delivered the message from Her Majesty, expressing sympathy to the Chinese community who are now in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak crisis.
"Her Majesty The Queen sent an encouraging message to President Xi and Chinese people," Liu said in a Twitter post alongside a photo of himself beside Prince Andrew.
"' At the critical time of fighting #coronavirus, I express my sincere sympathy for Chinese people and pray for the speedy control and victory over the virus. It was conveyed by Duke of York," he added.
My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year. Their enthusiasm for China and contribution to China-UK relation is highly appreciated. pic.twitter.com/RXw6Zumsnp — Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) February 8, 2020
In a separate Twitter post, the Chinese ambassador confirmed that he invited Prince Andrew and his family to celebrate Chinese New Year in his humble abode. "My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year," Liu wrote alongside a group photo of the said crew.
"Their enthusiasm for China and contribution to China-UK relation is highly appreciated," he added.
As of writing, the Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm or deny if the statement relayed by Prince Andrew indeed came from the 93-year-old monarch. In a Twitter post, ITV's reporter Chris Ship said that the Palace declined to comment on the alleged message of the Queen to the Chinese people, tjough they confirmed that the meeting between Prince Andrew and ambassador Liu Xiaoming is a "private meeting."
My question to Buckingham Palace: “Did the Queen convey these words about #coronaviruschina to President Xi or not? Answer: it was a private meeting, we won’t comment on what was, or was not conveyed. https://t.co/u5v98gFaaO — Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) February 8, 2020
"My question to Buckingham Palace: "Did the Queen convey these words about #coronaviruschina to President Xi or not?" Ship wrote on Twitter.
"Answer: it was a private meeting, we won't comment on what was, or was not conveyed."
Prince Andrew faced a massive scandal three months ago due to his connection with Epstein. He also allegedly lept with one of Epstein's alleged sex slave, then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, but has strongly denied the allegations.
With the recent unofficial "royal engagement," The Firm is expected to receive heavy criticisms. After all, it looks like Prince Andrew is not repentant with his actions and insincere with his previous statements.
It is also worth noting that the Duke of York failed to cooperate with the FBI in their investigation of Epstein, but he had the time to make a royal visit -- even if he has stepped down from royal life.