The Archbishop of Canterbury has been forced to clarify comments he made about Prince Andrew in an interview with ITV News.
Most Rev Justin Welby suggested the Prince is "seeking to make amends" after the royal paid millions to settle a sexual assault case.
He said he believed "we all need to step back a bit" when asked how he would advise the public how to respond to Prince Andrew's case.
Andrew stepped down from public life after settling a civil case with Virginia Giuffre. She alleged that the royal had assaulted her when she was 17 - he denied any wrongdoing.
Interviewer Tom Bradby also asked the Archbishop: "Do you think as a nation we need to be forgiving of him, or we say we never want to see you again? Where should the public sit and where should the monarchy sit on this issue?"
"I think we respond to that in two ways," Archbishop Justin responded.
"Someone who's 96, at a big public occasion is fully entitled to have one of her children supporting her. That seems a very reasonable thing, let's get away from the personality of the Duke of York and simply look at the Queen's position," he said.
The 62-year-old was stripped of his royal titles and is no longer a working royal after paying an undisclosed sum of money to settle the case against Giuffre. Because of this, many people were surprised the Queen had chosen him to accompany her during the Duke of Edinburgh's thanksgiving service.
Archbishop Justin continued: "Secondly, forgiveness really does matter. I think we have become a very, very unforgiving society. There's a difference between consequences and forgiveness."
"Now with Prince Andrew, I think we all have to step back a bit, that's a particular case.
"He's seeking to make amends and I think that's a very good thing. But you can't tell people how they're to respond about this. But as to the service of Westminster Abbey, she was remembering her husband of 70 something years, surely as human beings, we can say that one of her children was steadying her at that moment."
After some criticism online, a spokesperson for the Archbishop clarified his comments saying he was making a "broader point about the kind of society that he hopes the Platinum Jubilee inspires us to be" and was not referring "specifically to Prince Andrew when he said we must become a more forgiving society."
The Archbishop himself has also released a statement on his comments.
Posting on Twitter, he said: "I was asked a question about forgiveness, and I said that there is a difference between consequences and forgiveness. Both are essential elements of the Christian understanding of justice, mercy and reconciliation.
"I also made the broader point that I hope we can become a more forgiving society. These are complex issues that are difficult to address in a short media interview and I hope they do not distract from this week's joyful celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee."
The interview was recorded before he tested positive for Covid, a diagnosis that has forced him to miss giving the sermon at a Jubilee thanksgiving service at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday.
The Archbishop of York, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, will preach instead.