Britain's Prince Andrew. Picture: David Parker/Pool Photo via AP/African News Agency (ANA)

London - Prince Andrew was on Monday accused of using the N-word during a meeting with a former Downing Street aide.

The duke is said to have used the term during a 2012 meeting with a political adviser of Sri Lankan descent.

He strenuously denies doing so.

Writing in a column for the London Evening Standard on Monday, Rohan Silva, David Cameron’s former adviser on the tech economy, claimed he met Andrew at Buckingham Palace and asked whether the international trade department could be improved.

He alleges that Prince Andrew responded: "Well, if you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the ****** in the woodpile."

Mr Silva, 38, said it was not the first time the prince had used an outdated phrase.

The previous year the pair had been discussing EU reform when he claims Andrew said: "What you have got to remember, is that you’ll never get anywhere by playing the white man."

Mr Silva said that the alleged N-word incident left him "reeling at the prince’s use of language". He said he was "ashamed" he had not done anything about it at the time, adding: "I felt overawed and extremely conscious of the gulf in status between the two of us.

"For a long time after, I kicked myself for not confronting the prince on his choice of words – and it’s something I still regret today. He clearly wasn’t taken to task very often by the people around him, which meant offensive language could go unchallenged."

Palace sources on Monday strenuously denied that Andrew had ever used such language and Andrew’s lawyers are said to have sent a letter to the London Evening Standard to make this clear.

Mr Silva said he had agreed to meet the prince for a second time because he was "passionate about banging the drum for British business", adding: "The Royal Family plays a positive role in all kinds of quiet but significant ways." However on his alleged utterance of the N-word, he added: "I can’t help but wish I’d said something when I had the chance. After all, if we don’t call these things out, and dare to speak truth to power, nothing will ever change."

In 2017, the Tory MP Anne Marie Morris was suspended for using the woodpile phrase in a debate about Brexit. Before that, Conservative peer Lord Dixon-Smith used it in the Lords in 2008.

Hansard, the record of debates held in Westminster, reveals that during the 1980s the phrase was uttered in the Commons and Lords on ten separate occasions.

Daily Mail