A NEILSTON woman's fiancé has received royal support in his fight for freedom from an Indian prison.

Ex-paratrooper Billy Irving, 35, is being backed by both Prince Charles and Prince Harry as he waits to hear if he will be reunited with his partner Yvonne McHugh, 27.

Billy has been in jail since October 2013 after an Indian court ruled he and five other anti-piracy seamen had entered the country's waters with illegal weapons.

The families of the six prisoners have published what they say are legal arms licences given to the men by the UK Government which prove their innocence.

It is claimed the licences, which included semi-automatic assault rifles exported to Billy’s employer, US maritime security firm AdvanFort, were authorised.

A campaign designed to force the country's senior politicians into action over the issue has so far failed to bring about any significant results.

Now, however, the men's spirits have been lifted ahead of a bail hearing in November by the news that two members of the Royal Family have spoken out about the situation.

A private secretary of Prince Charles, colonel in chief of The Parachute Regiment, sent the following letter to the parents of Billy's fellow prisoner, John Armstrong.

It read: "The Prince of Wales was deeply saddened to hear of the distressing situation your son John, and indeed your family, finds itself in.

"The prolonged separation, concern for health and wellbeing and financial strain as you await the outcome of the judicial process must be a very great burden on you all.

"His Royal Highness is grateful to you for taking the trouble to write to him as you did and he feels so deeply for you.

"I send you every good wish for a speedy conclusion to this matter so that John may return to his loved ones soon."

Prince Harry's office replied to another campaigner who called on the British Government to secure the men's freedom by saying: "Prince Harry has asked me to send you his very best wishes and hopes that there will be a resolution soon."

Billy, who is from Oban, has spent only a few weeks with his one-year-old son William since being imprisoned.

Though charges against Billy and the other crew members were initially dropped three years ago, Indian authorities appealed the decision.

It resulted in Billy and his fellow MV Seamen Guard Ohio ship seamen being jailed for five years in January in the squalid Puzhal Prison.

A bail hearing originally scheduled for late September is now due to take place next month,

Speaking to the News last month about the delayed hearing, his fiancée Yvonne said: "It’s one thing after another. I half expected it.

"The fact that the public prosecutor didn’t show up – if that happened in this country you would get done with contempt of court.

"For the Foreign Office to say they can’t intervene is a joke when that judicial system isn’t working to their own laws."

To stay up-to-date with Billy's ongoing situation, search for 'Bring Billy Back' on Facebook.