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Ingrid Newkirk

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A Royal Disappointment: William and Harry's 'Secret' Hunting Trip

Posted: 19/01/2012 23:00

The young royals are a delight to behold - such good ambassadors for the United Kingdom with their gleaming white smiles, perfect posture and impeccably tailored clothes. But, like a horror film in which the beguiling love interest strips off his mask to reveal an alien monster's face beneath, the young royal's beauty is apparently only skin deep, and more's the pity.

It has come out, despite the Palace's "no comment", that William and Harry have been busy indulging in their usual sadistic pastime: killing animals for the sheer fun of it.

Fresh from blowing birds out of the sky at Sandringham at Christmas, the young Princes spent last weekend on a 'secret' killing spree in Spain. It was not their first visit. At a New Year's getaway in 2005, they and their party apparently slaughtered 740 partridges in a single day as well as numerous other animals, including wild boar and deer at the Finca La Garganta estate.

This time, they celebrated Harry's getting his helicopter license by stripping boar, deer and birds of their 'license' to live and breathe. Not only did they shoot the animals but they also harassed them first, courtesy of dozens of beaters employed by their host, the Duke of Westminster, to make sure the 'game' came to them. No exertion necessary.

It was hoped that the embarrassing incidents and misdeeds of older royals would be forgotten with the coming of age of William and Harry and with William's marriage to Kate. It was easy to imagine that they would relegate the image of the Queen wringing a bird's neck and the whole world of bag numbers and bloodied fox brushes to the history books to nestle alongside Henry VIII's arrogant decapitation of his wives.

After all, these young men are in a unique position to show that they are aware of advances in our understanding of animals' emotions and interests. But their choice is to ignore animal intelligence and relationships and continue to treat them as royal families have done for millennia: as nothing more than living targets to destroy at whim.

With the world and the world's knowledge at their fingertips and afforded boundless opportunities for amusement, how detestable and disappointing that the Princes choose to get their kicks by killing other individuals who ask for nothing out of life but to live it unmolested - a disappointment made even more bitter by the unfulfilled promise of the ambassadors they could have been, had they chosen to emulate their mother's gentle nature.

What a shame that behind the good looks and tousled locks, these handsome young men are apparently cold-hearted, calculating, unimaginative and mean.

The animals whose lives are so callously snuffed out like so many Windsor Chapel candles have precisely the same capacity to feel pain and to suffer as the Queen's corgis. All leave family members or mates behind when they are killed, and none is exempt from grief.

Blood sports have no place in an ethically developed society. That is why polls repeatedly show that the vast majority of Britons oppose such gratuitous violence. These days, we expect those with firearms to use them to protect the innocent, not to destroy the helpless - much less to derive pleasure from it.

We want more from the young royals than a photo opportunity. If they can't step up to become enlightened, respectful and compassionate role models, then they should simply step down.