Charles and Camilla's poignant Falklands tribute – as Andrew forced to stay away

The heir to the throne and his wife spoke to veterans and serving sailors at a reception on board the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth. But there was no sign of the one member of the Royal Family who served on the front line in the conflict. Stung by a backlash to his efforts on Instagram to recall the conflict earlier this year, the Queen’s disgraced son Prince Andrew has stayed away from all public commemorations.

Friends said he had no intention of taking part because of public hostility to his comments on his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson’s account on the social media website in April. “You won’t be seeing him at any events,” one said.

Charles, 73, and Camilla, 75, were greeted by the president of the South Atlantic Medal Association 82 (SAMA82), Commodore Jamie Miller, in Portsmouth.

They received a royal salute from a Royal Navy guard of honour accompanied by an Army band on the jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base.

On the ship, they were met by the carrier’s commanding officer, Captain Ian Feasey, and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace before talking to veterans of the conflict, serving sailors, officers, and their families in the carrier’s vast hangar.

Charles became the royal patron of the SAMA82 when it was founded in 1997 to recognise the role of all three services in the conflict.

Mr Wallace said: “Forty years ago, 30,000 service personnel made the 8,000-mile journey to help protect the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. Today, we thank every one of them for their efforts and honour the 255 who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“I am heartened that veterans from the Falklands conflict have had the opportunity to spend time with, and continue to inspire, serving members of our Armed Forces.

“The UK is as determined to defend our values now as we were 40 years ago.”

Cpt Feasey said: “It was humbling for our sailors and officers to meet veterans of the Falklands conflict and to remember the sacrifices made by the UK armed forces and Merchant Navy personnel during the Falklands conflict, in which aircraft carriers played a vital role.”

The reception on board HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of many events held across the country this year to commemorate those who fought in the war and the 255 service personnel who lost their lives.

Mr Miller, who survived the sinking of destroyer HMS Coventry, said: “We have already enjoyed around 25 major events around the country to commemorate the 40th anniversary to remind people of what we achieved, celebrating the success of Great Britain’s Armed Forces and strengthening our association’s membership.

“To have Their Royal Highnesses present aboard the nation’s flagship – a reminder of the importance of sea power and the vital role of aircraft carriers in the Falklands – is a fitting end to this year’s events and we are truly honoured by their presence.

“It is vital that we remember the past to get the present and future right.”

Andrew, 62, was forced to step down from all royal roles amid a scandal over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his multi-million pound payout in an out-of-court settlement earlier this year to Virginia Giuffre, who alleged she was trafficked across the Atlantic and forced to have sex with the Queen’s son when she was 17.

Andrew has always strenuously denied the allegations.

In theory he could still attend events as a veteran. He served in the Falklands as a Naval helicopter pilot and has since claimed he is unable to sweat because if an excess of adrenaline after being shot at by Argentine forces.

He has decided against attending events because of the outcry every time he is suspected of trying to wheedle his way back into public life, according to sources close to him.

In April there was controversy when he wrote about his experiences in the Falklands on his ex-wife’s Instagram account and signed off using the style HRH, even though he had agreed not to use it.

In a 700 word post, subsequently deleted, he wrote then: “As I sit here at my desk on this cold crisp spring morning thinking back to April 1982 I’ve tried to think what was going through my mind as we sailed out of Portsmouth lining the flight deck of HMS Invincible.”

He added: “So whilst I think back to a day when a young man went to war, full of bravado, I returned a changed man.

“I put away childish things and false bravado and returned a man full in the knowledge of human frailty and suffering.

“My reflection makes me think even harder and pray even more fervently for those in conflict today, for those families torn apart by the horrors they have witnessed.”

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