Outlander star and new mum Caitríona Balfe was forced to publicly defend her decision not to attend the world premiere of the new series after coming under attack from fans.

The Irish actress said she was unable to join other cast members including Sam Heughan, Richard Rankin and author Diana Gabaldon on the red carpet at London's Royal Festival Hall because of parenting duties but took part virtually.

The 41-year-old, who plays Claire Fraser in the time-travelling drama, gave birth to her first child with husband Tony McGill in August last year.

The Herald:

She splits her time between family homes in Glasgow and London but is currently in Los Angeles.

She posted on Twitter: "To all those saying it’s shameful I’m not there in person, I understand you’re disappointed but I also ask for some understanding as a new mom.

"I’m trying to do the best I can and not being able to fly across the world like I used to is a change but we are adapting….

"I’ll be there virtually for red carpet and panel and it’s not @Outlander_STARZ‘s fault … We’re all trying to give you all the best experience we can in new and challenging circumstances."

However, the notoriously devoted Outlander fans were unforgiving in their response to her absence.

One posted: "the lead actress isn't attending???I can't believe it! THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. This should be the best day for the fans and it's turning into a nightmare."

Dani wrote: "Lack of respect with fans where the main actress doesn't even bother to go to the event in person. 7 years following up to do this joke after 2 years with nothing."

However other fans and celebrities leapt to her defence including Fife-born presenter Edith Bowman who replied: "You are amazing. An inspiring woman and mum xxxxx"

Jameela Jamil said it was "f******" wild" that the Belfast actress had had to explain her absence while ABC news presenter Ginger Zee wrote: "You would have people saying it’s shameful if you did go too — I know from experience 😉 you do what’s best for you and everyone will be here watching and cheering you on."

Fans group Outlander Ambassador posted: "You are the BEST Caitriona and always amazing in person or virtual. We are outraged that you even have to explain yourself, UGH! From the beginning of #Outlander until now you've been nothing generous and gracious ❤️."

The first episode of the new series, titled ‘Echoes’, will be available to stream in the UK on March 6 on Amazon Prime Video via StarzPlay.

The Irish actress last year apologised to Outlander fans for being absent from social media, saying she had been 'cooking up this little human' as she shared a picture of his hand holding her finger.

She did not reveal the name of the child but urged her fans to support children's charities.

The actress is patron of the World Child Cancer organisation and also supports charitable causes involving refugee relief and the environment.

In a post to her 1.7million Instagram followers, Ms Balfe wrote: "I’ve been off socials for a while as I was taking some time to enjoy cooking up this little human. We are so grateful for this little soul...that he chose us as his parents.

The Herald:

"I’m in awe of him already and can’t help stare and wonder at all the possibilities of who he will become, where he will go and what he’ll do on the big adventure of his life."

The actress has spoken of her love of Scotland saying: "There's something beautiful about historic buildings. At home in Scotland, I often find myself wondering about the lives of people who lived there before us."