Boris Johnson has defended Prince Andrew as someone who does a "huge amount of good" for the United Kingdom, amid a media storm over allegations the royal had underage sex with a teenager.
The mayor of London said on Tuesday morning that the Queen's second son should be "respected" for the work he did as an international trade envoy.
"Prince Andrew, let's be very clear, is a guy who does a huge amount of unsung, unheralded, work for this country," he said. "I've seen that guy get out there and sell this country, try and help British firms get business around the world."
Boris told LBC Radio that he felt sympathy for the prince. Andrew has faced mounting controversy after he was named in US court documents as having sex with a woman on three separate occasions when she was a minor. Palace officials have "emphatically denied" he had sexual contact with the woman.
Boris said today: "We may think it's bizarre, but somebody who is the second son of the Queen is felt in many parts of the world to be an interesting and significant figure and they will receive him cordially and people who come with him they want to hear what business suggestions they have.
Andrew's ex-wife Sarah Ferguson yesterday defended him - describing him as a "great man". Standing by the Duke, she reportedly said: "The York family is a tight unit. We've always been a tight unit.
"He is the greatest man there is. It was the finest moment of my life in 1986 when I married him. He is a great man, the best man in the world."
Sarah, 55, reportedly made the comments as she left the luxury ski chalet in Verbier in Switzerland, where she had been holidaying with Andrew, 54, and their younger daughter Eugenie.
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