OUTLANDER star Caitriona Balfe has defended her decision to not attend the world premiere of the hit show’s new series after facing attacks from fans.

Balfe said she was unable to join her fellow cast members Sam Heughan, Richard Rankin and author Diana Gabaldon on the red carpet in London because of parenting duties.

The Irish actress admitted fans were “disappointed” she could only attend virtually but asked for some “understanding” on their part for the new mum.

Balfe gave birth to her first child with husband Tony McGill in August last year.

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The 41-year-old splits her time between her homes in Glasgow and London.

She tweeted: “To all those saying it’s shameful I’m not there in person, I understand you’re disappointed but I also ask for some understanding as a new mom. I’m trying to do the best I can and not being able to fly across the world like I used to is a change but we are adapting.

“’ll be there virtually for red carpet and panel and it’s not @Outlander_STARZ‘s fault … We’re all trying to give you all the best experience we can in new and challenging circumstances”.

Balfe plays Claire Fraser in the time-travelling drama, which is set to premiere its 6th season after delays due to Covid in what fans dubbed “droughtlander”.

Some fans criticised Balfe for her absence, with one posting: "The lead actress isn't attending??? I can't believe it! THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. This should be the best day for the fans and it's turning into a nightmare."

Another said: “Lack of respect with fans where the main actress doesn't even bother to go to the event in person. 7 years following up to do this joke after 2 years with nothing."

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However, many came to her defence, with Scottish presenter Edith Bowman replying: “You are amazing. An inspiring woman and mum.”

ABC news presenter Ginger Zee wrote: "You would have people saying it’s shameful if you did go too — I know from experience you do what’s best for you and everyone will be here watching and cheering you on."

Meanwhile, actress Jameela Jamil said it was “wild” the new mum had to explain her absence.

Fan group Outlander Ambassador also defended the Belfast actress: "You are the BEST Caitriona and always amazing in person or virtual. We are outraged that you even have to explain yourself, UGH! From the beginning of #Outlander until now you've been nothing generous and gracious."