Friend: Duke feared for his post
A friend of the Duke of York has claimed the royal feared he would lose his post as Britain's trade envoy following the controversy over his ties to a convicted paedophile.
Goga Ashkenazi revealed Andrew contacted her over the weekend saying in a BlackBerry message he was "very, very worried" about whether he could remain in his role.
Fresh doubts had been raised about the royal's position following further media coverage over the weekend of his links with American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
Last month a picture emerged of the Duke with his arm around Virginia Roberts. The image was taken while she was employed by Epstein as a masseuse but she alleges he sexually exploited her while a teenage minor.
But the Government has rallied round the Duke, with David Cameron's official spokesman saying the Prime Minister is "fully supportive" of him staying on.
The comments were in contrast to earlier media reports which quoted an unnamed Whitehall source as saying there would not be "many tears shed" if Andrew quit.
Ms Ashkenazi, a Kazakhstan socialite, revealed Andrew's state of mind in an interview with the Evening Standard.
She told the newspaper: "I told Andrew not to worry, that he'd done nothing wrong, and that it was being blown out of proportion. Of course, he knows it was unwise to fraternise with this Epstein character, and it was silly to be photographed with his arm around Epstein's masseuse (Virginia Roberts).
"But I know Andrew as a lovely, lovely man - kind-hearted, impeccably behaved and honourable - and I'm quite sure that at the time he had no idea that she was under age or anything more than a masseuse to Epstein."