Celebrity Party:

Declan Donnelly took a swipe at Prince Andrew on Sunday’s series debut episode of I’m A Celebrity as he mocked the beleaguered royal’s claims he doesn’t sweat.

In opening scenes of the Australian-set reality show, Dec, 44, couldn’t resist wading into the Duke of York’s much-maligned BBC Newsnight interview, in which he denied having sex with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts.

Introducing the new batch of celebrity participants alongside his best pal and returning co-host Ant McPartlin, the TV personality slipped in the first of his two jabs just seconds into the episode.

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No sweat: Declan Donnelly, left, took a swipe at Prince Andrew, right, on Sunday’s series debut episode of I’m A Celebrity as he mocked the beleaguered royal’s claims he doesn’t sweat

Speaking of the fresh batch of stars – including Caitlyn Jenner, Ian Wright and Kate Grraway – Ant said: ‘Ten celebrities, all very nervous, all of them sweating…’

Without missing a beat, Dec interjected: ‘Presuming they can sweat. Not everybody can, apparently,’ prompting raucous laughter from the crew.

During his BBC Newsnight interview, which aired on Saturday night, Prince Andrew spoke publicly for the first time about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein – denying he ever had sex with the financier’s ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts. 

Interview: On Saturday night, Prince Andrew told the BBC that when Epstein was a guest at Windsor Castle and at Sandringham in 2000 there was ‘no indication’ of wrongdoing 

Extraordinary: Speaking during the interview, he said the appeal of Epstein was that ‘he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together’

The Duke of York faced questions on about his links to Epstein who was found dead aged 66 earlier this year in a prison cell while being held on sex trafficking charges.

Andrew maintained he does not recall meeting Miss Roberts and did not spend time with her at Tramp Nightclub in London on March 10 in 2001 after which she claims the pair first had sex.

The duke denied he slept with her on three separate occasions, saying the encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party, and they spent the rest of the day together. 

A photograph apparently showing Andrew with his arm around then 17-year-old Roberts, now Giuffre, that evening and with Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell standing in the background, has been widely published. Supporters of Andrew, however, have disputed its authenticity. 

Speaking out: The Duke of York, speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis 

The Duke of York said: ‘I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

‘And then because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there.

‘I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home.’

Questioned why he remembers the evening so distinctly, Andrew said: ‘Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do. 

‘I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.’

Rejecting claims: Andrew (left) also again rejects the claim by one of Epstein’s (right) victims, Virginia Roberts, that he had sex with her when she was 17 

Snap: The infamous photograph of Prince Andrew smiling as he stands with his left arm around the waist of a young Virginia Roberts has dogged him for years. It is alleged to have been taken in early 2001

Prince Andrew reveals he last met socialite Ghislaine Maxwell just months ago – despite ‘cutting off all contact’ with Jeffrey Epstein in 2010… but where IS she now? 

Maxwell has not been seen in public since a photograph emerged of her sitting outside an In’N’Out Burger restaurant in Los Angeles

By Caroline Graham in Los Angeles for the Mail On Sunday and Henry Martin For MailOnline 

She has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. But the importance of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in unravelling the ‘truth’ about Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and her role in the whole sordid saga became even more apparent after last night’s interview.

Time and again, the Prince invoked his friendship with Maxwell, 57, daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, as the reason he came into paedophile Epstein’s orbit.

Asked when he last saw Maxwell, Andrew said his last contact was ‘earlier this year, funnily enough’, when she ‘was here doing some rally’.     

The BBC’s Emily Maitlis said: ‘So even though he had by then been arrested and was facing charges of sex trafficking?’

The Duke said no, clarifying that ‘this was early spring’, before Epstein’s arrest in July. 

When asked if they discussed Epstein at all, Andrew said: ‘No, actually funnily enough no not at all, there wasn’t anything to discuss about him because he wasn’t in the news, you know, it was just…we had moved on.’

He added: ‘If there are questions that Ghislaine has to answer, that’s her problem I’m afraid, I’m not in a position to be able to comment one way or the other.’

Andrew also told Maitlis he went to visit Epstein in 2010 at his New York mansion to tell him it ‘was inappropriate for us to be seen together’ and cut off their relationship following his conviction.  

He said his friendship with Maxwell began when she was at Oxford University – and it was she who introduced him to her then-boyfriend Epstein in 1999.

Maxwell fled to New York, some say virtually penniless, after the 1991 death of her father and friends say she widely credited Epstein with helping her cope with her ‘overwhelming’ grief.

But the relationship was more complicated. She used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener’s son, to society. In return, she used the financier’s millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons.

Andrew blamed Maxwell for bringing Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham in 2000. ‘Remember that it was his girlfriend (Maxwell) that was the key element in this,’ the Prince told Maitlis. ‘He was the… plus one.’

The Prince corrected previous reports that he threw a birthday party for Maxwell at Sandringham at which Epstein is believed to have met other members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles: ‘It was a shooting weekend,’ he said.

Of course, it was at Maxwell’s Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first ‘sex trafficked’ her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied.

Last night, a source said: ‘Ghislaine is the key to everything. She’s the Queen Bee around which everything unfolded. She’s pivotal to determining the truth.’

Maxwell, who has been accused of being Epstein’s ‘madam’ – a charge she has denied – has not been seen in public since a photograph emerged of her sitting outside an In’N’Out Burger restaurant in Los Angeles in August. Reports soon emerged those images may have been ‘faked’ by her lawyer to disguise her whereabouts.

The ex-socialite has not been seen since although rumours have placed her in Brazil, France, the American mid-West and even the UK. ‘No one knows where she is,’ a lawyer for one of Epstein’s victims said last night. ‘She’s done the greatest disappearing act known to man – or woman.’

Roberts has previously described their alleged time together in London in vivid detail, claiming that Andrew had been ‘sweating’ as they danced together in the London nightclub.  

But Andrew said: ‘There’s a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time.

‘I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at and it was almost impossible for me to sweat.

‘And it’s only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I am starting to be able to do that again. So I’m afraid to say that there’s a medical condition that says that I didn’t do it.’

He added: ‘I’ve no recollection of ever meeting her, I’m almost, in fact I’m convinced that I was never in Tramps with her.

‘There are a number of things that are wrong with that story, one of which is that I don’t know where the bar is in Tramps. 

‘I don’t drink, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there.’

Questioned about the photograph of him and Ms Roberts together, which friends of the Duke of York have said could have been faked, he said that public displays of affection are ‘not something he would do’ but refused to reveal whether he thought the image was doctored.

He said: ‘Oh it’s definitely me, I mean that’s a picture of me. I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because when I go out in London I wear a suit and a tie. 

‘That’s what I would describe as my travelling clothes if I’m going to go overseas. There’s plenty of photographs of me dressed in that sort of kit but not there.’

Sources close to Andrew have said there are questions over the veracity of the photo, amid claims the hand round his accuser’s waist does ‘not look right.’ 

Again asked about the photograph, the Duke of York said: ‘I’m terribly sorry but if I, as a member of the royal family, and I have a photograph taken and I take very, very few photographs, I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do. 

‘So that’s the best explanation I can give you and I’m afraid to say that I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested.’

He added that the photograph appeared as though it had been taken upstairs in Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, and said that was somewhere he never went – in another questioning remark about the image.

‘Listen, I don’t remember, I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken,’ he said.

‘I don’t remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs.’

And referring to his hand in the photograph, he said: ‘From the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. 

‘So it’s very difficult to be able to prove it but I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken.’ 

Last night Virginia Roberts Giuffre – who claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times between 1999 and 2002 – was said to be ‘furious’ over the interview.

A source close to the now mother-of-three told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The interview was totally lacking in empathy and he did not utter a word of remorse for any of Epstein’s multitude of victims. How do you think that makes them feel? It is telling that the Prince is so out of touch that he tries to make the interview all about him.’   

Ms Roberts outlined her claims against Andrew in a world exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday in 2011. And it was these alleged encounters – fiercely and repeatedly denied by Andrew and ruled inadmissible by a US court in 2015 – that produced some of the most fierce questioning from Maitlis last night,

Asked if they had sex in 2001 at the London home of Ghislaine Mawell, then Epstein’s girlfriend, the Prince replied: ‘It didn’t happen.’ She went on to press him four more times on whether they had sex – or ‘any kind of sexual contact.’

Andrew replied: ‘I can absolutely categorically tell you that it never happened.’ Elsewhere he is asked if he could have had sex with ‘any young woman trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein in any of his residences’ and issues a rambling response: ‘If you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to… take some sort of positive action and therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything.’

Virginia Giuffre did not immediately comment with sources saying she was ‘taking her time to consult with her legal team’ before making a public statement. 

Pictured: Prince Andrew is pictured with Epstein in Central Park in New York in February 2011

Accusation: ‘One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts has made accusations against you,’ Mrs Maitlis says, outlining the claims she had sex with the prince. Andrew said he had no recollection of meeting her 

Show: The Duke of York answered questions from Emily Maitlis, 49, during the hour-long show

Daughter: The duke denied he slept with Mrs Giuffre on three separate occasions when questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice (pictured in 2001) to Pizza Express in Woking for a party, and they spent the rest of the day together

Home: Andrew insisted he was ‘at home with the children’ on the night Miss Roberts alleged she was nightclubbing and later having sex with him. Exploring this alibi, Maitliss pressed further and Andrew volunteered that he could remember taking his daughter Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey, (pictured) at between 4pm and 5pm that afternoon

During one exchange with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, the Queen’s second son was asked if he felt any sense of guilt or shame over his friendship with the US financier, jailed for procuring an under-age girl for prostitution.

He replied: ‘Do I regret that fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.’

The Newsnight presenter immediately challenged his use of the word ‘unbecoming’ to describe the actions of a child sex offender and the Duke apologised, saying: ‘I’m being polite, I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender. 

‘But no, was I right in having him as a friend? At the time, bearing in mind this was some years before he was accused of being a sex offender. 

The women who made bombshell Prince Andrew interview happen: How Newsnight producers including former barrister convinced the royal to talk 

When Newsnight producers first made overtures to the Palace about a possible interview almost a year ago, Andrew’s knee-jerk response was that he didn’t want ‘to be shouted at for half an hour’.

One aide meanwhile thought he risked coming across as ‘an entitled idiot’.

So it surprised many when, on Thursday, Andrew finally went toe-to-toe with Emily Maitlis in the middle of Buckingham Palace’s South Drawing Room for an interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the claims – which he has long denied – that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Andrew voiced concerns but private secretary Amanda Thirsk talked him round

It was his first public grilling on the subject, the interview of his life in fact, but he was on home turf at least, not in some harshly lit BBC studio.

This was the room that Queen Victoria commandeered the day after her coronation in 1838 for the Palace’s first ball.

It was perhaps not the best setting for someone seeking to convey humility rather than entitlement, but in the end it was the cross-examination itself that would focus minds.

The Mail on Sunday has been told a similar voluntary sit-down with the FBI is highly unlikely, so after last night’s broadcast – at least as far as Andrew is concerned – the matter is closed.

Credit is due to Newsnight for landing the interview, but in particular to Samantha McAlister, a former barrister turned TV producer. She is a former European debating champion and her silky persuasive skills were invaluable in negotiations with the Palace. While Andrew initially voiced concerns – at one point he said emphatically: ‘No, we shouldn’t do Newsnight’ – his influential private secretary Amanda Thirsk was enthusiastic and, over time, talked him round.

One crucial factor was his charity work. As one senior aide put it: ‘As a senior member of the Royal Family, the Duke of York supports a great many charities and initiatives. HRH does not wish unfounded allegations, nor a former association, to distract from his important work to support so many organisations.’

I don’t there was anything wrong then, the problem was the fact that once he had been convicted I stayed with him and that’s the bit that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.’

Andrew, 59, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and eighth in line to the throne, has been heavily criticised over his links to multimillionaire Epstein, who died in custody in the US in August. 

Speaking during the interview, he defended spending four days with Epstein after his release from jail in 2010 for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.

And said he did not regret his relationship with Epstein, saying: ‘Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful. 

‘He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren’t that close. So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.’  

Defending his decision to stay with Epstein after his release from jail, he said: ‘I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together. 

‘And I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it.’

But asked why he decided to continue staying with a convicted sex offender, he said: ‘It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. 

‘At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. 

‘But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.’ 

During his stay, Andrew was photographed with Epstein in Central Park in New York in February 2011. He denied the photograph was set up by Epstein to help with his public image.   

‘Again, new information is coming out since his suicide has made us reappraise that walk in the park. We can’t find any evidence or my staff and my people and I can’t find any evidence to suggest that that was what he was doing,’ he said.

‘I mean you can look at it in so many different ways. The fact of the matter is that somebody very cleverly took that photograph, it wasn’t as far as I remember nor do my security people remember, anybody being present or close because there were enough security around.’

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a girl under the age of 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in a US prison before being released on probation.

He was arrested in July on new federal charges that he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex, but was found dead in New York’s high-security Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10 as he awaited trial.

He denied claims that he was a ‘party prince’ and that that was the reason he hung around with Epstein, saying he’s ‘never really partied’ and that after he got married he was ‘very happy’ and ‘never really felt the need to go out and party.’ 

Engaging: The duke (pictured) said during the interview: ‘I’m an engaging person, I want to be able to engage, I want to find out, I want to learn’

Guest of honour: Mrs Maitlis (pictured) asked Andrew about on occasion where he was invited as the ‘guest of honour’ to one of Epstein’s parties 

Claims: Virginia Roberts (pictured in September) alleges she was coerced by paedophile US businessman Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of the Duke, into having sex with Andrew on three occasions

Oath: Jack Scarola, a leading member of Virginia Roberts’ legal team, told Mail Online he would like the duke to submit to an interview ‘under oath’ instead of giving statements to the media that carry ‘little weight’

Maitlis questioned how The Duke of York might not have noticed what was going on at Epstein’s house, citing Virginia Roberts’ legal team who have said: ‘You could not spend time around Epstein and not know what was going on.’

But the Duke of York said: ‘I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time and I don’t wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. 

Prince Andrew admits spending FOUR DAYS at Jeffrey Epstein’s House of Depravity in 2010 because it was a ‘convenient place’ to stay

Prince Andrew last night dismissed his four-day visit to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s New York ‘house of depravity’ by describing it as a ‘convenient’ place to stay while he broke off their friendship in an ‘honourable’ way.

Speaking for the first time about the 2010 visit to the £60 million Manhattan home – just five months after the financier left jail following his conviction for child sex charges – the Duke of York confirmed he attended a dinner party there on December 2 before his infamous ‘walk in the park’ with the shamed US financier three days later.

He revealed that it was during that stroll through Central Park – captured in a picture that went around the world, haunting him ever since – that he finally broke off their 11-year friendship.

When asked by Emily Maitlis why he stayed with a convicted sex offender, Andrew replied: ‘Ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do?

‘I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.

‘I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgment call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it I had to go and see him and talk to him.’

He said the photograph in the park was taken when he broke the news to Epstein they could no longer be friends.

‘We had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed, which was when I said to him, I said, “Look, because of what has happened I don’t think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact” and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day [in fact it was two days later] and I never had any contact with him from that day forward.’

Incredibly, the Prince cited the reason for breaking off the friendship as the ‘attendant scrutiny’ he was under – rather than the fact Epstein had pleaded guilty and served time for child sex offences.

Andrew said Epstein’s reaction to his decision was ‘understanding’, adding: ‘He didn’t go into any great depth in the conversation… except to say that he’d accepted… a plea bargain, he’d served his time and he was carrying on with his life, if you see what I mean.’ 

‘And I said, “Yes but I’m afraid to say that’s as maybe but with all the attendant scrutiny on me then I don’t think it’s a wise thing to do.” ’ 

‘As far as I was aware, they were staff, they were people that were working for him, doing things.’

Probed on whether he saw underage girls at Epstein’s house, he said: ‘You would notice if there were hundreds of underage girls in Jeffrey’s house, wasn’t there, not when I was there. 

‘Now he may have changed his behaviour patterns in order for that not to be obvious to me. You’re asking me to speculate on things that I just don’t know about.’

Asked why he first became friends with Epstein, Andrew said the appeal of Epstein was that ‘he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together’.

He said: ‘I mean I don’t go into a friendship looking for the wrong thing, if you understand what I mean. 

‘I’m an engaging person, I want to be able to engage, I want to find out, I want to learn.

‘You have to remember that I was transitioning out of the Navy at the time and in the transition I wanted to find out more about what was going on because in the Navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and investment.’

Andrew’s friendship with Epstein goes back to at least 1999. In 2000 the financier and his ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, were invited by Andrew to a party at Windsor Castle thrown by the Queen.

Miss Maxwell, also a friend of Andrew, has been accused by some of Epstein’s victims of being his ‘procurer’, a charge she denies.

Questioned why Epstein was a guest at Windsor Castle and at Sandringham in 2000, Mailtlis probed: ‘He was brought right into the heart of the royal family at your invitation.’

But Andrew responded: ‘But certainly at my invitation, not at the royal family’s invitation but remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. 

‘He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect.’

Asked when his last contact was with Ghislaine Maxwell, he revealed the two had met earlier this year, but added that it was before Epstein was arrested on new federal charges that he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex.

He revealed the two didn’t discuss Epstein at all, saying: ‘No, actually funnily enough no not at all, there wasn’t anything to discuss about him because he wasn’t in the news, you know, it was just… we had moved on.’

Towards the end of the interview, Maitlis asked the Duke of York whether he would be prepared to testify or give a statement under oath about Epstein and the accusations levelled against him. 

But he was non-committal on the issue, saying: ‘Well I’m like everybody else and I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing.

‘But if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.’

Told it could help provide closure, he said: ‘If there was in the right circumstances, yes I would because I think there’s just as much closure for me as there is for everybody else and undoubtedly some very strange and unpleasant activities have been going on.

‘I’m afraid to say that I’m not the person who can shed light on it for a number of reasons, one of which is that I wasn’t there long enough.’

Rehab: ‘Do you feel you were a part of Epstein’s rehabilitation?’ Mrs Maitlis (pictured) asked. The duke responded: ‘Funnily enough, I don’t’

Friendship: The Duke (pictured) said: ‘I mean I don’t go into a friendship looking for the wrong thing, if you understand what I mean’

Together: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured together in New York in 2005

Mansion: Prince Andrew has previously denied being aware of any of Epstein’s illegal activities. He is pictured above in 2010 answering the door of Epstein’s New York mansion

In extracts released before the interview aired last night, the Duke of York said he recognises it was wrong and now regrets going to stay with Epstein in New York after the financier’s release from prison on child sex offences.

Referring to the Queen and the Royal Family, he admitted he ‘let the side down’.

The Duke also said he does not remember meeting Virginia Roberts, the woman who claimed she had sex with him when she was 17.

He told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis: ‘It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do.

‘But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.’

Sarah Ferguson calls Prince Andrew ‘this giant of a principled man’ as she calls on ex-husband to ‘stand firm’ over Jeffrey Epstein sex allegations 

Sarah Ferguson has posted an extraordinary Instagram post in which she defended her ex-husband Prince Andrew, ‘this giant of a principled man’ amid allegations over his close friendship with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duchess of York shared the bizarre and emotional tribute ahead of Andrew’s interview tonight, praising him as a ‘true and real gentleman’ who ‘dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth’. 

The Duchess of York is visiting Venice yesterday after it was submerged by floods as storms and winds brought misery to the city

Sarah Ferguson, 60, posted a series of photos of Andrew on Instagram with a long and heartfelt caption which read: ‘It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs. 

‘Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people. 

‘I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man, that dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth. 

‘For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch. It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour. 

‘We have always walked tall and strong, he for me and me for him. We are the best examples of joint parenting, with both our girls and I go back to my three C’s… Communicate, compromise, compassion.’

Last month the Duchess of York spoke out on her ex-husband’s ties to the disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein for the first time, insisting she will support Prince Andrew amid the engulfing scandal surrounding the royal’s friendship with the convicted paedophile. 

The duchess, who has remained close to Andrew since their split in 1996 and is the mother of his two daughters, talked up the importance of ‘familyhood’ when asked if she was standing by the prince. 

The claim came in a further extract from the interview which will be aired in full on BBC 2 tonight.

Andrew also said: ‘The problem was the fact that once he had been convicted I stayed with him.

‘That’s the bit I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.’

During the exchange, Andrew again rejects the claim by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, that he had sex with her when she was 17.

The prince says he does not even remember meeting Miss Roberts, despite the existence of a photograph showing him with his arm around the teenager’s bare waist alongside Epstein’s alleged ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell.

‘She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp nightclub in London.

‘She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?’ asks Miss Maitlis.

‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,’ Andrew replies.

‘You don’t remember meeting her?’ the interviewer asks.

‘No,’ Andrew firmly states.

The full interview, which was conducted at Buckingham Palace, was shown on BBC 2 at 9pm tonight in a Newsnight special: Prince Andrew & The Epstein Scandal.   

Speaking after the interview, Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said: ‘This must be the most bizarre royal interview ever given. He only regrets visiting Epstein to tell him he was breaking contact with him. 

‘He can’t see that he did anything wrong and admits to no wrongdoing. Who will believe him after this bizarre ramble? The question must be whether he will keep his more than 200 patronages and what royal engagements he will do in the future. He won’t recover from this.’ 

Last night, Ingrid Seward, Editor of Majesty Magazine, said: ‘It is disappointing that the Queen’s second son has put himself in a position to have to answer such questions. He has to take responsibility for the situation he has put himself in.’ 

According to royal sources, the programme makes for uncomfortable viewing at times, but, they say, is a ‘no holds barred’ discussion of the Epstein case. 

A friend of Prince Andrew told the Daily Mail’s Richard Kay: ‘In a way, he is saying ‘judge me’.

‘Everything else had failed, he had no alternative.’

Insiders have also said that the Duke felt he had no choice but to speak out after being left ‘paralysed’ by his inability to defend his reputation.

One close aide told The Daily Telegraph that the scandal ‘turns over every day in his head’.

The aide added: ‘It was certainly the hardest thing he has ever done. For any of us to talk about this stuff no matter who you are, it would be difficult. It takes a huge amount of courage.’

Filmed on Thursday, the Mail understands that, over 45 minutes, the Queen’s son was ‘machine-gunned’ with questions about everything from his family to his sex life in excruciating detail.

The palace did not ask for any questions to be submitted in advance, and no assurances were given. One of those present claimed the Queen’s normally rather pompous and garrulous son was surprisingly ‘humble and candid’.

‘Maitlis doesn’t pull her punches and [people] were wincing slightly at times but he didn’t shy away from answering a single question,’ said one.

Criticised: Andrew, 59, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and eighth in line to the throne, has been heavily criticised over his links to multimillionaire Epstein, who died in custody in the US in August

Met: Andrew maintains he never met Virginia Roberts, despite a photograph of them together

Conference: Roberts, now 35 and with the surname Giuffre, speaks during a press conference outside a Manhattan court in New York on August 27

Island: A view of Jeffrey Epstein’s stone mansion on Little St. James Island (pictured above) – where Andrew was accused of taking part in an orgy in 2015 court documents

Raid: FBI agents were seen raiding Jeffrey Epstein’s US Virgin Island Little St James in August – it earned the nickname ‘paedo island’

It is highly unusual for a member of the Royal Family to speak about something so personal and controversial in a one-on-one interview. Only the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles, both speaking about their failed marriage, have done so. Both programmes were considered disastrous for the monarchy.

Andrew – long believed to be the Queen’s favourite son – informed his mother about the interview in advance and was, apparently, given her blessing.

A source close to the prince said: ‘He wouldn’t do anything without discussing it with her majesty first.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman added: ‘The Queen is aware of the interview.’

It is the first time the prince has been publicly grilled about his friendship with the American sex abuser who was found dead in his New York prison cell in August while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.

Jeffrey Epstein was ‘found hanging in his jail cell using a paper bed sheet’ – authorities say it was suicide but his brother claims: ‘He didn’t kill himself’

The cell Epstein would have been held in have ‘paper level sheets’, a steel frame bed you cannot move, no light fixtures and no bars

Jeffrey Epstein was found ‘unresponsive’ at around 6.30am in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019 – a month after his arrest.

Prison staff were unable to revive him. He was then rushed to the infirmary inside the jail.

From there, he was placed in an