Prince Andrew has faced widespread criticism over his “extremely ill-advised” interview with BBC Newsnight which saw him grilled over his links with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

The interview was an attempt by the royal to draw a line under his controversial relationship with the disgraced financier, and to deny publicly claims he had underage sex with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims.

However, public relations and royal experts have now questioned why he agreed to it in the first place, with some claiming viewers will have been left “aghast”by his comments in the “disastrous” hour-long programme.

During the interview, the Duke of York denied sleeping with Ms Giuffre, who was 17 at the time, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he was in Woking taking his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express for a party.

Responding to claims by Ms Giuffre that they first met in a nightclub where he was sweating heavily, he also told Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis that he had a medical condition which meant he could not sweat.

He also claimed that he visited Epstein after he had been convicted of sex offences because of his “tendency to be too honourable”.

PR guru Jason Stein is said to have quit working for the prince just two weeks before the BBC interview after advising him not to go ahead with it.

Alex Barr, co-founder of PR agency the Big Partnership, said: “I think this interview was extremely ill-advised.

“If his PR adviser quit because he disagreed vehemently with the decision to do this, I think that was a very wise career move on his part.”

He added:”This is a situation where he’s talking about a convicted paedophile, so for him to suggest that he wanted to ‘do the honourable thing’ and go and visit him in person to break off their friendship, I think would leave most right thinking people aghast.

“I think in Buckingham Palace and Clarence House and other royal households they must have been banging their heads on the table when they watched that.”

During the interview, the duke stated that he still did not regret his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, because it had some “seriously beneficial outcomes”, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

He also cast doubt on a photograph showing him with his arm around Ms Giuffre, claiming he had no memory of it being taken.

Allan Rennie, associate director of PR agency Holicom, said the prince’s biggest mistake was not taking the opportunity to apologise.

He said: “He was told not to do the interview by his own PR adviser and that was the right advice.

“I think on every level he got it wrong. He made a lot of outlandish claims which have probably raised a few eyebrows, and he chose the opulent surroundings of Buckingham Palace.

“I don’t think he ever came out and said sorry- that was a big mistake, not to apologise.

“If he hadn’t done this interview chances are he wouldn’t have been in the headlines today and it’s had the total opposite effect of what he probably anticipated.”

Mr Rennie added that the risk now is that law enforcement agencies or lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Giuffre decide to take further action after viewing the interview.

Meanwhile, former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter described the interview as “excruciating”.

Asked about the prince’s decision to take part, Mr Arbiter said he thought many questions would now be asked in Buckingham Palace.

He said: “They will be wondering: Was this the right decision? Was the right decision made? Who made the decision to put him on? Did he make it himself or did he seek advice within the Palace?

“My guess is that he bulldozed his way in and decided he was going to do it himself without any advice.

“Any sensible-thinking person in the PR business would have thrown their hands up in horror at the very suggestion that he puts himself up in front of a television camera to explain away his actions and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.”

Royal biographer Catharine Mayer added that Saturday’s interview was “terrible because it erased the victims of Epstein”.

“It was as bad as I expected,” she said. “Probably worse. He did not mention those women once.”