Prince William and wife Kate Middleton have been pictured breaking coronavirus rules during a night-time woodland walk with other royals.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were criticised for failing to “make sure they are beyond reproach” after photographs emerged of the royal couple breaching Britain’s COVID-19 ‘rule of six’.
In pictures released by the Daily Mail on Wednesday morning (Australian time), William and Kate and their three children are seen together with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children taking a stroll on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk at night.
Norfolk is under Tier 2 of Britain’s coronavirus restrictions, meaning up to six people – including children – can meet outside.
The two families – nine in total – were pictured together on Sunday as they were given a preview of Luminate – an event open to the public where visitors follow a light trail through the country park on the estate.
Royal sources told the Daily Mail that Prince Edward, his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and their children had arrived separately and had booked separate slots to walk the trail.
The sources said the families had no intention of meeting up as a group and stressed that any contact was inadvertent.
But Graham Smith, from the organisation Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said: “The royals should not be relying on the inability of the authorities to enforce the law”.
“They have a responsibility to show a higher standard and to make sure they are beyond reproach.”
In one image published in the Daily Mail, William leads the group with his youngest son, Prince Louis, on his shoulders. Prince George and Princess Charlotte are close by, with Kate behind them and Sophie and her son, James, Viscount Severn, alongside.
The Wessex’s daughter, Lady Louise, follows behind her mother, with Prince Edward at the back, making nine people in total.
“The two families were given separate consecutive slots to visit the trail just before it opened to the general public,” a source at Sandringham said.
“They arrived and departed in their own family groups.
“As anyone with young children will know, there were moments on the 90-minute walk where it was difficult to keep the two family groups apart, particularly at bottlenecks on the trail.”