Prince Harry will not be charged over the alleged shooting of two hen harriers on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, which has ‘disappointed’ both Natural England and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The two hen harriers were shot next to Dersingham Bog nature reserve on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Prince Harry and two friends were shooting there at the time.

The shooting was allegedly witnessed by two members of the public and a warden for the conservation body Natural England, who telephoned the police after they saw two hen harriers shot out of the sky.

Sir Martin Doughty, Natural England’s Chair, said: ‘We are disappointed that the Crown Prosecution Service was unable to bring a prosecution in this case due to insufficient evidence. Every year hen harriers are killed illegally, particularly in northern England, but successful prosecutions are incredibly rare.’

Prince Harry was questioned by police over the shooting but, as there was no ballistic or forensic evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to take no action against Prince Harry.

‘The bodies of the hen harriers have not been found, said a CPS spokesman, ‘and there is no forensic or ballistic evidence. Witnesses also heard unexplained shooting in the area before the three suspects said they were present at the scene, so other people cannot be ruled out.’

The RSPB is disappointed that Prince Harry has not been charged. Killing hen harriers, said the RSPB’s Conservation Director Dr Mark Avery, is ‘one of the most serious of wildlife crime offences.

‘We would always hope that people killing hen harriers are brought to justice. We believe the illegal killing of hen harriers is the reason for this bird’s low UK population, especially in England where only 20 pairs remain.’

Clarence House has not commented on the CPS decision that Prince Harry will not be charged over the shooting.

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