The Duke of York has joined members of the royal family for the traditional pre-Christmas lunch hosted by the Queen but there was no sign of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Prince Andrew has had a tumultuous end to the year after his disastrous appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight program, which has left his reputation in tatters.
His attempt to explain his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein backfired and he was heavily criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
Meghan and Harry are on a six-week break, with rumours suggesting they are overseas with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, and were not expected at the royal gathering at Buckingham Palace.
Many of the royal guests drove themselves to the private event, including Andrew.
The duke has only been seen in public a handful of times since the television interview and a large number of his major patronages have accepted his resignation and others have distanced themselves from him.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 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.
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.
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.