Kate Middleton let Prince George play with a toy gun and critics are horrified

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, rarely makes waves, but photos of her son Prince George firing a toy gun have caused outrage on social media.

On Sunday, Kate took the children — George, 4 and Princess Charlotte, 3 — to watch dad Prince William play polo at the Beaufort Polo Club in a match to raise funds for cancer and people who are homeless. (Although George’s cousin Savannah Phillips joined the family on the field, 6-week-old son Prince Louis was not present.)

A photo of Prince George, the 4-year-old son of Kate Middleton and Prince William, caused controversy online. (Photo: AP Images)

Kate, wearing a $70 blue-and-white, off-the-shoulder dress from Zara with nude wedges, looked happy while her children played on the grass, chasing each other and jumping. However, images of young George wielding a toy gun (and a toy knife) spoiled the mood online. Many balked at the toys, given Britain’s knife- and gun-related violence, which is “rising at an accelerating pace,” according to the U.K. Guardian.

Still, plenty of others supported the boy’s choice of toy.

Guns play a large role in the British tradition, particularly Royal Gun Salutes, which are considered a “sign of respect” at various functions, such as the birthdays of the Queen, George, and Charlotte, according to the official website of the monarchy

As a child, Prince Harry also played with a toy gun, and both he and William enjoy hunting. In 2016, William told ITV News, “There is a place for commercial hunting in Africa as there is ’round the world. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but the arguments for regulated, properly controlled commercial hunting is that the money that goes from shooting a very old infirm animal goes back into the protection of the other species…”

“The Royals have either served in the armed forces or are married to someone who has served,” royal expert Kelly Lynch, managing editor of Dailybreak, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They’ve learned to respect firearms as deadly weapons, and hopefully teach their children about gun safety from a young age.” 

Prince Harry played with a toy gun in 1990. (Photo: Getty Images)

The choice to allow children to play with toy guns is “intensely personal,” says Deborah Gilboa, MD, a parenting and youth development expert. But the royals are under pressure to avoid controversial parenting methods.

“In this context — a public event that invites the public to participate — it’s risky to allow a toy gun, because many people look to the family for compassion and leadership,” Gilboa tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s not the best toy to throw into the diaper bag.” 

She adds, “Any family in the public eye has an obligation to consider how their actions affect the country, and the topic of guns is too fraught and charged to ignore.”

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