Prince Andrew skips traditional Xmas walk

Prince Andrew steered clear of the royal family's traditional Christmas morning walk to church.
Prince Andrew steered clear of the royal family's traditional Christmas morning walk to church.

Prince Andrew avoided the limelight on Christmas Day by skipping the royal family's traditional mid-morning walk to church and attending an earlier service with other relatives.

The Queen's second son has kept a low profile since he stepped down from royal duties last month in the wake of a scandal over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

He was filmed walking along a path with his brother Prince Charles to St Mary Magdalene church near the Queen's estate in Sandringham, eastern England, in time for a 9am service on Christmas Day.

Andrew did not join other members of the family walking along a road to the 11am service - one of the staples of the royal calendar.

The Queen attended both services, Sky News and other media outlets reported.

She was not accompanied by husband Prince Philip, 98, who was only discharged from hospital on Tuesday after being treated for what Buckingham Palace described as a pre-existing condition.

Later in the day, palace staff say the 93-year-old queen will use her Christmas address to the nation to stress the value of harmony and reconciliation after a "bumpy" year for her own family.

Over the past 12 months, her husband got a police warning for his involvement in a car crash, grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry publicly fell out and Andrew became more entangled in the furore over his links to Epstein.

The prince has denied accusations by a woman who says she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including Andrew, when she was 17.

Epstein, who was charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls, took his own life in jail in August.

Charles, 71, also attended the 11am service with his wife Camilla.

Prince William was present with his wife Kate and two of their children - Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Prince Harry is spending Christmas in Canada with his wife Meghan and baby Archie.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Australian Associated Press