PRINCE Andrew told the Queen today his disastrous BBC interview was “a great success”.
Prince Andrew was “buoyant” as he attended church with his mum despite the furious backlash which has put his official role under threat and plunged the Royal Family into its biggest crisis in years.
Astonishingly, the Duke of York believes he has now put to bed any criticism over his links to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to a close friend of the royal.
In a show of support yesterday, the Queen stood by her “favourite son” as they attended church on the Windsor estate where they live.
His pal revealed last night: “The Duke went to church with the Queen and was heard telling her it’s all been a great success.
“He thinks he’s done the right thing and has put the criticism to rest. He was all smiles and was looking very buoyant and happy.”
The Queen arrived in a car while Andrew went separately to the Royal Chapel of All Saints.
The pal went on: “As well as chatting, Andrew and the Queen also prayed together.
“He walked to the church so they weren’t pictured together.”
The Duke, 59, is believed to be unaware of the worldwide outrage sparked by his interview with Emily Maitlis, shown on BBC2 on Saturday night.
Viewers were especially angry over his lack of sympathy for the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, his former friend who died in August awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
He was also ridiculed over his repeated denials of any sexual relationship with then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts.
She has since slammed his denials “appalling”.
The royal’s pal said his aides do not “have the heart” to tell him how badly it has gone down.
They went on: “He’s told his friends and advisers he is delighted because he thought he acquitted himself well.
“He’s cock-a-hoop. He seriously believes he’s pulled off a master triumph. It’s astonishing.
“No one has the heart to tell him that he’s delusional — and this is the overall problem. He’s surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear.
“Yesterday he was looking happier than he has been for months, totally unaware his interview had caused a firestorm of criticism.”
It is unknown if the Queen watched the BBC programme, though she is said to have been the only member of the Royal Family to have been told of it beforehand.
Buckingham Palace last night said they will not comment on royals’ private time or confirm the Queen went to church with her son.
But our source revealed: “The Queen is very much intending to stand by Andrew.
“The sad reality is that she’s got a blind spot when it comes to him, as her favourite son.
“It’s a bit like how Margaret Thatcher was with her son Mark. Andrew can’t do any wrong in the Queen’s eyes.”
We can reveal the Duke intends to return to work tomorrow for an official engagement, which sources have described as “madness”.
Our insider explained: “He is planning to push ahead with his engagements and doesn’t want to duck out of anything.”
Friends believe the interview was a test run in the unlikely event he has to defend himself in police interviews or court.
The pal said: “There’s a real fear more accusations could emerge and, no matter what is being said, at least he has put it out there that he’s not going to roll over. He does have a defence.”
It emerged the Duke had lodged an official complaint with watchdog Ofcom over a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary last month on the Epstein scandal.
His private secretary Amanda Thirsk had pushed him to do the Newsnight interview in a bid to draw a line under the controversy.
But it has instead plunged the entire institution into crisis and overshadowed Prince Charles’s royal tour to New Zealand.
The Sunday Times yesterday revealed the Duke’s new PR man Jason Stein — Amber Rudd’s former aide — quit after his advice not to do the interview was ignored.
The Buckingham Palace grilling sparked a furious backlash, with PR experts stunned he agreed to it.
David Cameron’s former spokesman Craig Oliver said: “It will go down as one of the worst PR decisions ever — proof you really can make things a lot worse when you try to explain yourself.’’
The Queen’s ex-spokesman Dickie Arbiter said his royal role may suffer as a result of the “articulated lorry crash of an interview”.
He said: “He says he wanted his interview to draw a line in the sand but I’m afraid he’s going to have to deal with a lot more questions.
He had to cancel engagements a few months ago when this surfaced again and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the charities and organisations he is patron of are questioning their association with him.”
However a senior source close to the Duke has defended the decision to film the interview.
They said: “Our hope was that people see him for the thoroughly decent individual that he is and reflect that he has been absolutely consistent on this whole episode, whereas the other side of the story is perhaps a little less consistent.”
The source claimed he had asked Maitlis for difficult questions, and went on: “No one thought she was going to be quite as tough as she was but he handled it.
“It was captivating to hear such honest answers. He showed huge humility. It’s time to give the guy a break.”
It’s fine dining
By Chloe Kerr
THE Pizza Express in Woking was packed yesterday after Prince Andrew revealed he had dined there in 2001.
The restaurant in the high street was filled with families, with many expressing surprise that a royal had visited.
The revelations also sparked cheeky TripAdvisor reviews.
One wrote: “I’ve stayed at many a mansion of billionaires and been to amazing night clubs, but I can’t remember anything about them, only my visit to Pizza Express in Woking.”
Another user said the pizza was “fantastic’” but he was “disturbed” by a “weird bloke who looked like Prince Andrew with young girls”.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org