Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview branded 'disastrous' and 'excruciating'

"Disastrous" and "excruciating" are just some of the words being used to describe an unprecedented interview given by Prince Andrew to address his friendship with American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The Duke of York was interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight about his links to the convicted paedophile, who died in prison earlier this year, and allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl.

His appearance on the programme was the culmination of years of statements from Buckingham Palace, and was intended to dispel increasing scrutiny of his relationship with Epstein.

Many viewers and analysts have been left stunned by the nature of the hour-long interview, with one public relations expert comparing the footage to "watching a man in quick sand".

Crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said it would likely "haunt" the duke in future and could impact his association with some charities that he works with.

He added: "I've never seen anything so disastrous. For students of PR, that is how not to do it. It was like watching a man in quick sand and unfortunately, I don't think anyone would have thrown him a line to get him out."

Mr Borkowski said the duke should "keep a low profile", switch off his phone and not look at the papers on Sunday, which are dominated by the fallout from the interview.

Several have focused on his claim that he was in a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking on a night he is accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by the billionaire Epstein as a teenager and then forced to have sex with his friends - including Prince Andrew - when she was 17.

Some of those who watched the programme on Saturday have asked why the palace agreed to go ahead with it, with interviewer Emily Maitlis having said that the interview was signed off by the Queen.

Piers Morgan labelled it as "excruciating" in response to a tweet from Rose McGowan - the actress who became one of the most vocal accusers of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The former Charmed star said watching the interview made her feel "nauseous".

Ms Roberts-Giuffre was also active on Twitter as the programme aired, retweeting a number of negative reactions, including one that accused the duke of trying to "undermine his accuser".

He has been mocked relentlessly on social media for some of his comments during the interview, notably those surrounding his mention of Pizza Express.

TV presenter Giles Coren and columnist was not convinced by the pizza story. "Ask him what he ordered. If he says 'a sloppy Giuseppe' you've got him. Because they didn't introduce that till 2006."

Comedian David Baddiel picked up the prince on his grammar, quoting him: "That is what I would describe as me in that photo."

Catherine Mayer, founder of the Women's Equality Party, questioned the prince's intelligence, saying he was "too stupid to even pretend concern for Epstein's victims".

Even some of those supportive of the royal family, such as Royal Central website editor Charlie Proctor, were not impressed.

Mr Proctor tweeted: "I expected a train wreck. That was a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion level bad."

Comedian Dom Joly also tweeted with a crashing theme and said the interview was "a worse car crash than getting a lift home from Prince Philip".

Former diplomat Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, said he suspected the only truth the interview contained was the comment that Andrew never pays for drinks.

Andrew's revelation of having eaten at the Pizza Express on that day 18 years ago led to a spate of new online reviews for the eatery.

One reviewer wrote: "Love this place. I had a cracking pizza here in 2001. I remember it was 2001 because it was very strange the guy next to me had an American Hot pizza with extra chillies... not a drop of sweat came off him. Very odd."

Prince Andrew has received some backing over the interview, including from ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.

The Duchess of York posted on social media to defend him, saying: "It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs.

"Andrew is a true and real gentleman and he is stoically steadfast to not only his duty, but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people."

She added that she was "deeply supportive of this giant of a principled man".