Harry and the Harrier: Prince Questioned Over Illegal Killings

TreeHugger isn't best known for its coverage of British Royalty (heaven knows they get enough press elsewhere). However, when it relates to greenness, we are not averse to the occasional post. We have already looked at Prince Charles' attempts to cut his own environmental footprint , and the Queen's plans to install hydro power at Windsor Castle also made it onto our pages. It's a shame then, that this royal post sees one of the Windsor's making the headlines for all together more negative reasons. It seems that the reserve warden and two visitors at the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk were watching two hen harriers in flight (a protected species) when they heard shots before first one, then the other, bird of prey plummeted from the sky. The police were called in immediately to investigate the illegal killings which carry a potential sentence of 6 months in jail or a £5000 (US$10,000) fine. The suspects? Three men, including none other than Prince Harry, Charles' youngest son and third in line to the throne. For some strange reason, charges were not brought:

Last night, nearly two weeks after the hen harriers were shot on Wednesday October 24, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Prince Harry, third in line to the throne, had been interviewed as an official suspect by police, along with William van Cutsem, 28, a family friend, and David Clarke, 58, a Sandringham gamekeeper.

Despite an intensive police inquiry, no charges could be brought because "the bodies of the hen harriers have not been found". As a result, there was no forensic or ballistic evidence to study. And since all three suspects denied any knowledge of the incident, and there was no eyewitness testimony of who had fired the fatal shots, the case was closed. But, added the CPS, no one else was being sought.

Conservationists are furious at what looks like an attempt to tamper with evidence — none more so than the Royal Society for Protection of Birds. A spokesperson said that they were "concerned, but not surprised" that no evidence had been found. Apparently further allegations against Harry and friends (the only ones out shooting in the area) were that they used lead shot illegally over the protected conservation area. If these allegations are true, it looks like Charles' biggest contribution to the environment might be instilling some discipline in his offspring ::The Guardian::

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