Foreign secretary William Hague has come forward in support of Prince Andrew as UK trade ambassador.
There has been criticism of the Prince – and calls for him to stand down from his role – after reports in the press of his friendship with an American businessman who is a convicted paedophile.
But Mr Hague told the BBC he had "full confidence" in the work Andrew was doing.
The Duke of York has been Britain's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment since 2001. This entails promoting the UK's business interests around the world.
"I've seen a lot of benefits that he has brought in countries that I have visited, where he's been performing that role," said Mr Hague.
Meanwhile Prince Andrew's private secretary has responded to what he deemed "widespread comment" on his employer's friendship with Jeffery Epstein.
He explained that the Prince has known the US financier – who spent time in prison for soliciting a minor for prostitution – since the Nineties.
But added that: "The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the Duke are without foundation."
Photos: © Rex Features