STRAINED Prince Andrew "squared up" to the Queen's top aide at Buckingham Palace, according to reports.

He was "eyeball to eyeball" with Master of the Royal Household Tony Johnstone-Burt.

Hi brother Prince Charles later asked him for apologize – but it was not forthcoming.

Reports of the fracas, the talk of the palace for weeks, emerged last weekend, without the identity of the staffer.

Pals say Andrew has been under "immense strain" for two months and "something snapped" that day.

Jeffrey Epstein, who took his life in prison last month. It is still unclear what the disagreement was.

An insider said of Andrew, "He just lost it. There's some talk a couple of months ago that Andrew was unhappy about moving out of his apartment, but people are just speculating.

"They squared up each other's eyeball to eyeball."

Prince Andrew has been under 'immense strain'. Picture: AP

Prince Andrew has been under 'immense strain'. Picture: AP

A Friend of the Duke has said: "There were words on both sides but it was not in a physical way.

The friend added: "There is no apology because there is nothing to apologize for." The Duke maintains a good relationship with the Prince of Wales. "

As the palace's chief operating officer, Mr Johnstone-Burt is in charge of 250 staff and is overseeing the £ 369 million ($ A663 million) refurbishment. He is a decorated naval veteran and, like Prince Andrew, flew helicopters in the 1982 Falklands War.

A father-of-five with a ready smile, he is said to be a "favorite" of the Queen. A source said: "She loves him and likes his can-do attitude."

The Duke has been dogged by adverse publicity and unanswered questions about his friendship with pedophile Epstein, but vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

Asked if he was involved in an altercation, Mr Johnstone-Burt told The Sun"Thank you but I'm afraid I can not help at the moment."

A palace spokeswoman said: "Some time ago there was a disagreement between the Duke and a staff member.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and what was reproduced with permission