Royal issues passionate plea about child safety following controversial fashion ad

Princess Madeleine of Sweden has taken to her Instagram page to speak out against the use of "bondage bears" in fashion brand Balenciaga’s recent advertising campaign featuring children.

MORE: Balenciaga has responded to its controversial ad campaigns and the internet is weighing in

The royal, aged 40, who is eighth in line to the Swedish throne and mother to Princess Leonore, eight, Prince Nicolas, seven, and Princess Adrienne, four, shared an impassioned statement on her social media, encouraging her followers to join her in taking a stand against the sexualisation of children.

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Madeline posted a photo of a child hugging a giant teddy bear and wrote: "I am shocked and outraged that children are being used in fashion advertising in a sexual manner.

"The use of 'bondage bears' is an implicit reference to the sexualization of children and the world of pedophilia. It is NOT ok and a firm stand must be taken to send a message to companies who seek to profit from these images!"

She continued: "The image that I have chosen is the opposite. It’s about joy and how a Teddybear should provide comfort to a child, and put a smile on their face.

"Childhood believes that all children should be able to grow up in a safe environment free from violence and sexual abuse. Join me in the fight to protect the most vulnerable children. We can all do something! @worldchildhoodfoundation."

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Princess Madeleine of Sweden

Balenciaga came under attack after its recent ad campaign featured children holding teddy bears in BDSM style harnesses.

The pictures also showed a shot of a handbag with a page from a 2008 SCOTUS ruling (United States v. Williams) upholding the promotion or advertisement of child pornography as a federal crime not protected by free speech.

There was a public outcry at the images with Twitter users accusing the brand of promoting pedophilia and child pornography.

Princess Madeleine's followers quickly took to the comments section to thank her for taking a strong stance, with one writing: "Thank you so much for taking a stand!" and another commenting: "Amazing post and thank you for speaking up."

A third fan said: "THANK YOU for speaking out, the only royal to ever do so! You're very much in touch with the people, thank you." Another wrote: "Thank you for speaking out!! Children deserve to keep their innocence and it is our job to protect them!"

READ: 4 surprising ways Princess Kate and Meghan Markle are raising their children the same

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Balenciaga issued an apology following the backlash.

The statement said: "We would like to address the controversies surrounding our recent ad campaigns. We strongly condemn child abuse; it was never our intent to include it in our narrative. The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.

"The first campaign, the gift collection campaign, featured children with plush bear bags dressed in what some have labelled BDSM-Inspired outfits. Our plush bear bags and the gift collection should not have been featured with children. This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone."

They continued: "The second, separate campaign for spring 2023, which was meant to replicate a business office environment. Included a photo with a page in the background from a supreme court ruling 'United States V. Williams' 2008 which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography.

"All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents. They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama. The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaga has filed a complaint.

"We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background and we could have done things differently. While internal and external investigations are ongoing."