Queen facing devastating Christmas Day as Andrew protesters could picket outside church

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The talk is inflicting heartbreak for Andrew's mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who's torn between your passion for her boy and protecting the monarchy.

The Queen is 90 years old, and a heavy cold kept her from regular appearances on Christmas and New Year's.

It is believed Prince Andrew did not stay at Sandringham to watch the Panorama TV interview in which Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged that at the age of 17 she was forced by paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the Duke of York. The queen's second son has made a decision to step back from his royal duties over his longtime friendship with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, and the entire ordeal has probably had the queen thinking about her role in the future.

The passion for all things equestrian runs in the family - Queen Elizabeth was just 4 years old when she was given a Shetland pony named Peggy. "It's not her call - and it's not his call". Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions while being trafficked by Epstein, allegations he has repeatedly denied.

But American royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, author of books on the Queen and on Charles, says she doesn't give much credence to the stories about the Queen bowing out early. "It's not her call - and it's not his call". It appears, from the outset, the Queen has no plans of slowing down. She has handed over foreign travel to Prince Charles and his siblings.

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So obsessed in fact, she apparently wants one of her own and has asked Santa to bring her a pony - something Prince William isn't keen on.

However, her Majesty has sought counsel from her son and heir Prince Charles and grandson Prince William as the scandal snowballed and organizations began to distance themselves from the royal family.

Speculation that Charles was inheriting more responsibility behind the scenes to prepare for his time as King wasn't driven exclusively by one report, however.

Charles informed his embattled brother there was "no means again into the household within the close to future" after the general public outcry that adopted his disastrous Newsnight interview final month. "There is a whole range of functions that go on behind the walls of the palace". "The Queen is as busy as ever in terms of audiences, investitures and meetings. It is business as usual", the palace insider added.

It is significant that Clarence House thought this long-established assumption about the longest-reigning monarch in British history (67 years and counting) had to be reiterated.