The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been accused of inadvertently breaking coronavirus rules after being pictured with Prince Edward and his family at a public attraction.
William and Kate took their children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, to the festive Luminate woodland walk at the Queen’s estate of Sandringham.
There, it is reported, they met with the prince’s uncle Edward, his wife Sophie, and their children Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and 13-year-old James Viscount Severn while on the winter trail.
They have been accused of flouting the ‘rule of six’ at the Queen’s Norfolk residence as there were nine of them on the outdoor trail on Sunday evening.
Both families arrived separately, with royal sources saying there was no intention of meeting up.
But as they made their way around they were seen and photographed mixing and chatting on several occasions while maintaining social distancing.
Sandringham is in Tier 2 which means a maximum of six people, including children, can meet up outdoors if they are not from the same household or support bubble.
A member of the public at Luminate took a photo of the two families on their phone and claimed they had seen them mingling several times.
A witness told the Daily Mail: “They were clearly breaking Covid rules, in my opinion, because there were nine of them from two separate households.
“They were obviously all having a fun evening out. You could tell that the royal youngsters were having a great time.
“But I couldn’t help thinking that it was one rule for them and another for the rest of us. It was really quite blatant.”
Pictures show William carrying Louis on his shoulders as George walks alongside him while Kate takes in the lights with Charlotte and Sophie.
James is seen following behind while Edward and his daughter Louise are at the back of the group.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the rule of six means families should not stop to chat to other families outdoors even if they bump into them in the street.
William and Kate have been staying with their three children at Anmer Hall on the estate for the last ten days.
Edward and his family travelled to the attraction from their home in Surrey, which is also a Tier 2 area.
A royal source suggested that any contact was unintentional as the families had arrived and left separately after being given consecutive slots to visit the trail.
They added: “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.”