Only Fools and Horses star John Challis today backed Prince Andrew in a rare show of support for the under-fire royal.
Mr Challis, 77, who played Boycie in the much-loved BBC show starring David Jason as Del Boy, also questioned the decision by the Queen and Prince Charles to sack him.
Defending the Duke of York he said should be ‘given a chance to actually make things better’ after making error-after-error in his personal life culminating in his Newsnight disaster.
Speaking on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show today, Mr Challis said: ‘I think the poor man’s made an awful lot of mistakes which he now regrets, do you know, obviously.
‘And what he’s done, retiring and so on from the public gaze, I think is exactly what should happen but I think he should be given a break because, after all, nothing’s been proved, has it? There is no proof.’
Mr Challis, 77, who played Boycie, pictured with his on screen wife Marlene last week, has shown Prince Andrew a rare piece of public support
The Queen was also seen leaving Windsor Castle this afternoon, heading back to her London home Buckingham Palace, days after she effectively sacked Andrew
He went on to highlight Andrew’s service record with the Royal Navy, flying helicopters during the Falklands Conflict in 1982, and said: ‘I think he should be given a chance to actually make things better.’
Despite the vocal backing from the actor, and a visit from Princess Beatrice today, support for the Duke of York continues to drain away over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew is to ‘stand back’ from his charity patronages in a sign of his deepening humiliation over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
Aides to the Duke of York said last night he would step aside temporarily, but sources suggested his older brother Prince Charles and nephew Prince William would oppose any future return to royal duties.
Charles is flying home to Britain today after a tour of New Zealand, raising the prospect of a showdown between the brothers over Andrew’s disastrous decision to speak publicly about his relationship with convicted paedophile Epstein.
He will meet Andrew and ‘read him the riot act’, MailOnline understands.
A new poll found six out of ten people believed it had damaged the reputation of the Royal Family and a slim majority believed he should be banned from public events such as Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Sunday.
Prince Charles smiles and waves as he leaves his royal tour of the South Pacific but he is flying into a storm back home caused by his brother Andrew who he is expected to confront
Plans for a glittering reception at Buckingham Palace to mark Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday in February have been mothballed following public revulsion over the Newsnight interview.
Representatives from his charities, business sponsors and military affiliations would have been invited to the party, but many have attempted to distance themselves from him since the programme was shown.
During the BBC interview, Andrew denied claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl, Virginia Roberts, but admitted he had ‘let the side down’ when he visited Epstein’s home in New York – two years after the billionaire financier’s conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
The decision to go ahead with the interview was initially said to have been sanctioned by the Queen, but a royal source told the Sunday Times she had not given her approval and Andrew had not told her anything about what he planned to say.
The Queen was said to be ‘deeply frustrated’ that the scandal had overshadowed the rest of the Royal Family’s work although she remained ‘privately supportive’ of her second son, according to the source.
She effectively sacked him from royal duties last week after her heir Prince Charles and second in line to the throne, Prince William, asked her to intervene.
A source told the Sunday Times William had spoken to the Queen and Charles about Andrew’s future and believed his removal from public life was ‘the right thing to do’. They said: ‘William is becoming more and more involved in decisions about the institution [the monarchy] and he’s not a huge fan of his uncle Andrew.’
Andrew agreed to withdraw from public duty but initially wanted to remain a figurehead for some 200 charities and other affiliations. But he was forced to back down after many made it clear they no longer wanted his backing.
At least 23 organisations have either dropped him or accepted his resignation, including the English National Ballet, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Outward Bound Trust.
Princess Beatrice leaves Windsor after seeing her father today – possibly for the first time since he was sacked by the Queen
Prince William (left, with Andrew commemorating the end of operations in Afghanistan) is ‘not a huge fan’ of his Andrew, it is claimed, and spoke to the Queen and Prince Charles (right, with Andrew at St Paul’s Cathedral) about removing him from public life
Andrew still remains a figurehead for several military organisations, including as honorary Colonel for the Grenadier Guards. Sources said some regiments felt ‘awkward’ about him featuring on their Christmas cards, but his military affiliations are expected to remain in place for now – although the Palace has said he would not take part in any events.
Royal biographer Penny Junor said she believed Andrew would be unable to return to royal duties after the scandal. ‘He’s absolutely finished,’ she told the Sunday Times. ‘If he is no longer representing or supporting the monarch in any capacity, or doing good charitably, what’s the point of him?’