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Did five-year-old Prince George attend his first grouse shoot last week?

Credit: PA

The world’s largest animal rights charity has issued a strong statement condemning claims that Prince George was taken grouse shooting last week.

The five-year-old prince is reported to have gone with his mum and dad, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to a grouse shoot on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland where the Queen and other members of the Royal Family are on their annual summer holiday.

Kensington Palace – the office of Prince William and Kate – has not confirmed or denied the report in weekend newspapers.

However, PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – has criticised the Royal Family for taking part in a "violent perversion" which could be harmful to the young Prince’s "psyche".

Elisa Allen, the charity’s director, said of grouse shooting: “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.”

PETA says that 700,000 of the birds are killed in grouse shoots every year in the UK and gamekeepers also kill "vast numbers" of foxes, stoats and weasels to protect the stocks of grouse.

Prince William and Kate have been staying in Balmoral with the Queen and Prince Philip.

On Sunday, the Duchess of Cambridge was pictured arriving at church in nearby Crathie with the Queen in the back of the Monarch’s Bentley.