Prince Harry has been quizzed by Norfolk police over reports that the two hen harriers were shot on Dersingham bog at the royal family’s Sandringham estate last week.

Clarence House has confirmed that Prince Harry and a friend were in the area at the time, but apparently knew nothing of the shooting.

The shooting was witnessed by a conservation worker for Natural England, and could be extremely embarrassing for the Queen, who is patron for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Hen harriers: the vital facts

– Hen harriers are the most persecuted bird of prey in the UK

– Only 20 breeding pairs of hen harriers in England; 749 in the UK

– Shooting a hen harrier carries a prison sentence of up to six months, or a £5,000 fine

‘It is illegal killing that is keeping the population at a low level,’ says RSPB spokesman Graham Madge. ‘The population should be ten times higher than it is.’

Prince Harry was quizzed about the shooting of the hen harriers but the investigation is ongoing.

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