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    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge face backlash after taking Prince George, 7, on grouse shoot

    Prince William is blasted by animal rights activists PETA for taking Prince George, 7, to watch him on on grouse shoot at Balmoral and say exposure to ‘casual killing’ could cause ‘damage to his psyche’

    • George watched as William and others shot grouse near Balmoral on Saturday
    • It is not the first time the seven-year-old has watched a shoot from the sidelines 
    • Third in line to throne will be brought up in the royals’ country sports tradition
    • PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi says it’s ‘harmful’ for a child to watch animal shoot
    • They were so enthusiastic that Diana jokingly dubbed them her ‘Killer Wales’

    The Duke of Cambridge has been blasted by animal right’s activists for exposing his son Prince George to ‘causal killing’ on a grouse shoot. 

    Prince William, 38, took his son, seven, along to the hunt while on a family holiday in Scotland last weekend, where he watched his father and other senior royals spend the morning killing birds in Corgarff, a short drive from Balmoral. 

    It is not the first time that the young prince has watched a shooting party from the sidelines and George, the third in line to the throne, will very much be brought up in the country sports tradition that the royals enjoy. 

    However, animal rights group PETA have criticised this move, claiming that a child witnessing such a sport could cause ‘damage to their psyche’ and could ‘desensitise George to the suffering of animals’.  

    Prince William sporting a beard while on a shoot at the Sandringham estate on December 13, 2008. On Saturday, he took his son George on a grouse shoot in Corgarff, near Balmoral

    PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi said: ‘Very few people these days view shooting for “sport” as anything other than a violent perversion that hurts and kills beautiful birds who are minding their own business. 

    ‘For a child to be compelled to witness such casual killing – and by a parent he looks up to, no less – is potentially as harmful to his or her psyche as it is to the bird’s very life.

    ‘It can desensitise children to the suffering of animals – which is cause for concern, given the well-established link between cruelty to animals in childhood and antisocial behaviour in adulthood – and could give George nightmares. 

    ‘To help him grow into a responsible, compassionate leader, his parents must teach him respect for all living beings.’  

    Prince George in a photo provided by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July ahead of his seventh birthday

    Prince George in a photo provided by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July ahead of his seventh birthday

    Both William and his brother, Prince Harry, hunted and shot from a young age. They were so enthusiastic that their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, jokingly dubbed them her ‘Killer Wales’. 

    But since meeting his wife Meghan, Harry has hunted significantly less – although he did take part in the annual Boxing Day pheasant shoot at Sandringham in 2018. 

    The duchess is known not to approve, although claims she had ‘banned’ him were wide of the mark.

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent several days in Scotland last week with their three children visiting the Queen. 

    Kate, 38, is believed to have accompanied William and George on Saturday, leaving Charlotte, five, and two-year-old Louis at their lodgings. Kensington Palace declined to comment. 

    Royal sources said Princess Anne and her husband, Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, were also present, as was her son Peter Phillips, who was staying on the estate with his daughters, Savannah and Isla. 

    It is not believed that Mr Phillips’s estranged wife Autumn was with them. The couple announced earlier this year that they were amicably divorcing.

    Prince Edward and son James, Viscount Severn, 12, also took part in the shoot and were joined by his wife Sophie and daughter Lady Louise, 16, for lunch.

    The Duchess of Cambridge, then known as Kate Middleton, on a shoot at Sandringham in 2008

    The Duchess of Cambridge, then known as Kate Middleton, on a shoot at Sandringham in 2008

    Neither the Queen, who still attends the lunch parties, nor Charles and Camilla were believed to have been present – possibly because the 94-year-old sovereign was concerned about breaking her ‘Balmoral bubble’.

    Although many summer shoots take place in the hills above her Aberdeenshire estate, the monarch also owns 2,940 hectares of private grouse moor at Corgarff and 4,688 hectares of sporting rights rented from a neighbour.

    The grouse-shooting season extends from August 12 – the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ – to December 10. 

    The Royal Family has a long tradition of bloodsports, although the Queen has taken steps in recent years to prevent them from being photographed doing it.

    On his last ever shoot in 1952, the Queen’s father, George VI, and his party shot 90 pheasants, 17 rabbits, two pigeons and three mallards at Sandringham.

    Until recently Prince Philip – who found himself the subject of protests when he shot a tiger in India in 1961 – has been at the forefront of the royal shooting parties.

    William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis clap for carers for the 'Big Night In' on April 23

    William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis clap for carers for the ‘Big Night In’ on April 23

    In 1993, he apparently hit his target of 10,000 pheasants during a seven-week stay at Sandringham.

    Prince William has periodically walked a fine line with his passion for bloodsports and high-profile conservation campaigns.

    He was heavily criticised in 2014 for flying off with Harry on a boar hunting trip on the Duke of Westminster’s Spanish estate days before taking part in a campaign to highlight poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

    None of the animals they killed were protected species. 

    Kensington Palace officials have always defended his participation, arguing that legal and well managed private hunting and shooting is very different from the illegal wildlife trade, which William has led the field in trying to combat.

    Charlotte arrives for her first day of school, with her brother George and her parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Thomas's Battersea in London on September 5, 2019

    Charlotte arrives for her first day of school, with her brother George and her parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Thomas’s Battersea in London on September 5, 2019

    His United For Wildlife initiative has been lauded for its efforts to protect endangered species such as elephants, rhinos, tigers and pangolins.

    Even Kate has been photographed with a gun in her hands over the years, having shot grouse and pheasants. 

    She and her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, have been taught to stalk deer on the Queen’s Scottish estate. 

    Animal welfare groups such as the RSPB acknowledge that some grouse moor owners invest significantly in management practices and infrastructure.

    But they have expressed concern about practices such as vegetation burning, predator control and use of all-terrain vehicles. 

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