Prince Andrew attends Queen’s pre-Christmas lunch – but no sign of Harry and Meghan

Prince Andrew has joined members of the royal family for the traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace - but there was no sign of Prince Harry and Meghan.

The Duke of York had a tumultuous end to the year after his disastrous interview on BBC's Newsnight, which has left his reputation in tatters after he sought to defend his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

He was heavily criticised or showing a distinct lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims and remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier.

The duke was forced to step down from public duties, following the fall-out from the interview and several sponsors and companies cut ties with him.

Prince William and Kate and their children leave the Queen's Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA
Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence sitting side by side as they arrive at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

Prince Harry and Meghan were not at the meal, as the couple are on a six-week break, with reports suggesting they are overseas with Meghan's mother Doria Ragland.

Many of the royal guests drove themselves to the private event, including Prince Andrew.

The duke has only been seen in public a handful of times since the television interview.

Prince William and Kate arrived separately and were both pictured behind the wheels of their cars, with Kate taking Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, while William had Prince George next to him in the front passenger seat.

Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank leaving the lunch. Credit: PA
Prince George sits in the front passenger seat next to his father. Credit: PA

When the couple left William drove his family home with the three children on the back seat and his wife, who wore a striking Emilia Wickstead dress, beside him.

Among those invited to the event were the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Zara and Mike Tindall, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children.

Mike Tindall and Zara Tindall arriving for the Queen's Christmas lunch. Credit: PA

Minor royals included Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Lord Freddie Windsor and his wife, actress Sophie Winkleman.

The Queen will spend Christmas with the Duke of Edinburgh at her private Norfolk retreat of Sandringham.

They are usually joined on Christmas Day by close family – their children and grandchildren and their spouses – but not wider relatives.

The palace lunch allows the Queen to spend time with the other members of the family.