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21/02/2020 9:37 AM AEDT | Updated 21/02/2020 9:39 AM AEDT

Prince Andrew Gets Royal Birthday Wishes Amid Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

The Duke of York had claimed to be withdrawing from royal life over his ties to the late sex trafficker and a rape allegation.

Members of the royal family wished Prince Andrew a happy 60th birthday on social media Wednesday, publicly supporting the disgraced Duke of York amid his step-back from royal life due to his ties with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“On this day in 1960, Prince Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace, the first child born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Happy Birthday to The Duke of York,” read a post from the Royal Family’s account, which neglected to refer to the duke as His Royal Highness, as it has done in past years. Despite the omission, the Duke still holds his HRH title.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, captioned a picture of her ex-husband simply, “Happy 60th Birthday to Andrew,” while Princess Eugenie wrote, “Happy Birthday Papa!” to caption a childhood photo taken by her mother.

Andrew announced his withdrawal from public duties “for the foreseeable future” following a disastrous BBC Newsnight interview last year regarding his involvement with Epstein. The prince has been accused of raping a minor who was allegedly trafficked by Epstein. Andrew has repeatedly denied all allegations.

LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA via Getty Images
The Duke of York leaves after speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Bangkok on Nov. 3, 2019, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. 

In the statement announcing his decision to step back, Andrew said that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.” But just a few months later, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman confirmed that the FBI and U.S. prosecutors were unsuccessful in speaking with the duke.

“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” Berman said at a press conference in January. The Associated Press reported that this is the first time investigators have acknowledged that they sought and failed to obtain information from the Duke of York.

And despite the duke’s intention to step back from royal life, Andrew recently met with China’s ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, to pass on a message from the queen.

Liu shared the message and picture from the engagement, which showed Andrew with ex-wife Fergie; his eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice; and Beatrice’s fiancé, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.

“Her Majesty The Queen sent an encouraging message to President Xi and Chinese people: 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,” he tweeted at the time. The visit was private and was not an official royal engagement.

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