November 6, 2007 / 3:39 PM / 12 years ago

No charges for Prince Harry over shot rare birds

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry will not face any charges over the reported shooting of two rare birds of prey on one of the monarch’s country estates, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Prince Harry (R) smiles during his visit to the Royal Navy's fleet diving squadron at Horsea Island in Portsmouth, southern England, October 31, 2007. The grandson of Queen Elizabeth will not face any charges over the reported shooting of two rare birds of prey on one of the monarch's country estates, prosecutors said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Tim Ockenden/Pool

Harry was questioned by police investigating the alleged shooting of two protected hen harriers at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England, last month.

A spokesman for his father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, said Harry and a friend were in the area at the time of the shooting but were not involved.

“The bodies of the hen harriers have not been found and there is no forensic or ballistic evidence,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement.

“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 three suspects, who were interviewed by police, all denied that the birds were killed by them.”

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the hen harrier is one of Britain’s most persecuted birds of prey because it poses a threat to the number of grouse available to shoot.

The grouse hunting season traditionally begins in August and ends in December.

Prince Harry, 23, is third in line to English throne and has often courted controversy in recent years, gaining a reputation as a “wild child” by dabbling in marijuana and under-age drinking as a 17-year-old.

He graduated as an army officer from Britain’s elite Sandhurst military academy last year.

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