The Duke of York's closest supporters have insisted that a photograph showing him with a Jeffrey Epstein victim must have been faked because his fingers are "much chubbier" in real life.
Sources close to Prince Andrew launched an extraordinary fightback against claims that he had sex with Virginia Roberts by suggesting he had been the victim of digital trickery.
"The picture is a fake, and the girl's story is a fantasy," a source told the Telegraph.
It comes after repeated claims by Ms Roberts, now Giuffre, that she was forced by Epstein to have sex with the Duke when she was only 17. Earlier this week she declared outside a New York court hearing that the Duke "knows exactly what he has done".
"I hope he comes clean about it," she added.
But a source close to the Duke pointed out various "inconsistencies" in a notorious picture apparently taken in 2001 showing him with his arm wrapped around Ms Roberts' waist. His legal team have requested to see the original image but have been rebuffed by Ms Roberts' attorneys, the source added.
"Yes, the Duke knows what he has done - absolutely nothing wrong," the friend said.
"Look at the picture. It has clearly been faked. Andrew's fingers appear quite slender, like a girl's fingers. They are also a strange shade of red.
"His real fingers are actually much chubbier - quite small and chubby.
"A tabloid newspaper paid a lot of money years ago for a copy of this photo. But no one has ever seen the original. Doesn't that seem strange?
"Sadly – it seems to us - this girl is simply out to make a name for herself."
The Duke also believes that he is far taller in real life than he appears in the photograph, it is understood. The source pointed to a picture of Ms Roberts standing next to the model Naomi Campbell, and more recent images showing her alongside other alleged Epstein victims.
"Compare the picture against the others. The Prince is 1.83m tall, while Ms Roberts seems to be of below average height.
"She certainly appears to be much shorter than Naomi Campbell, who is apparently 1.77m tall.
"So it's strange that she and the Duke appear to be of similar height in the alleged photo. That doesn't make a lot of sense," the source said.
Ms Roberts appears to be wearing the same outfit in both photographs, the source added. "It's an identical pink top. Odd, don't you think?"
The picture is said to have been taken in 2001 at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British heiress who has been accused of acting as Epstein's 'madam'. It first emerged in a Sunday newspaper after apparently being supplied by Ms Roberts.
Andrew is understood however to have told friends that he has "no recollection at all" of ever meeting his accuser.
The source pointed to her claim that she drank cocktails with the Duke at Tramp's, the London nightclub, as evidence that her account is "pure fantasy".
"He's teetotal, so how could he have been drinking cocktails?" the source said.
"The judge threw these allegations out five years ago, and since then nothing has changed."
It comes after weeks of intense scrutiny over the Duke's alleged relationship with Ms Roberts, and Epstein.
Now aged 36 and living in Australia, Ms Roberts has claimed that that she had sex three times with the Prince when she was 17. Allegations made in court papers released in the US also claimed that the Duke had flown a number of times with Ms Roberts on a private jet belonging to Epstein, who hanged himself in jail a fortnight ago.
All the allegations against the Duke were struck from the court record in 2015 after being described as "immaterial and impertinent" by a judge and the Duke of York has consistently and emphatically denied any sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.
Last week he broke his silence over the affair to claim that he never saw the paedophile financier do anything illegal.
In a statement issued through Buckingham Palace he said that "at no stage during the limited time I spent with" the disgraced financier "did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction".
He admitted however that it was a "mistake" to visit Mr Epstein in New York in 2010 after his release from prison on child sex charges.
The Duke was yesterday pictured playing golf in the Costa del Sol in Spain. A spokesman for Ms Roberts did not respond to requests for comment.