Prince Harry and a group of friends killed 15 wild boar on a weekend hunting trip in Germany, while his animal-loving fiancé, Meghan Markle, was out of the country.
The fifth in line to the throne, who like the rest of his family is a keen shot and once ‘bagged’ a one-tonne water buffalo in Argentina, apparently used a powerful rifle leant to him by his brother, Prince William, for the private jolly, the Mail understands.
Harry was part of a ten-strong group that flew out of the UK on Friday in a private jet for two days of blood sports, landing in Berlin.
They drove to Goorlsdorf, in Brandenburg, North East Germany, where they joined a group of 60 fellow huntsmen for two days of shooting.
Prince Harry and a group of friends killed 15 wild boar on a weekend hunting trip in Germany, while his animal-loving fiancé, Meghan Markle, was out of the country
The gathering was organised by the prince’s close friend, German aristocrat Franz-Albrecht zu Oettingen-Spielberg, nicknamed The Boar Terminator, on his family estate.
Newly-engaged Harry, 33, attended his wedding last year to actress Cleopatra von Adelsheim von Ernest.
Franz has been described as possessing ‘world-class’ shooting skills and found fame after a video emerged which purported to show him in a snowy forest killing a number of running wild boar in quick succession.
He has also recorded instructive videos on boar shooting which are available online.
The Maerkisches Oder Zeitung, the local paper for the region, said it had confirmed Harry’s participation in the hunt on Saturday on the estate of the Oettingen-Spielberg clan from a number of sources.
According to an insider, the group bagged fifteen wild boars – which can be extremely aggressive and weigh up to 400 lbs – although there was no confirmation as to whether Harry had managed to kill anything personally.
‘There are regularly large hunting parties on the land at Gorlsdorf in which celebrities of the European aristocracy take part.
‘The forestry administration did not want to comment on this. Several sources, however, confirmed the presence of the prince to this newspaper,’ it said.
The fifth in line to the throne, who like the rest of his family is a keen shot and once ‘bagged’ a one-tonne water buffalo in Argentina, apparently used a powerful rifle leant to him by his brother, Prince William, for the private jolly, the Mail understands
Another insider told the Mail: ‘Harry is an enthusiastic shot and borrowed a weapon presented to his brother Prince William on his 18th birthday by celebrated German gunsmith Gernot Walther.
‘Harry enjoys the whole ritual of the hunt in Germany – from the sound of the horn, to the schnapps toasting the start, to the actual shooting. He apparently said with some enthusiasm he will be back.’
The country’s biggest newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, confirmed that Harry arrived on Friday with his own weapons aboard a Gulfstream aircraft, which he also boarded for the flight home on Saturday afternoon.
Franz and Harry enjoyed a similar expedition on a Bavarian estate at the beginning of December last year and, earlier this year, a local radio station reported he was again in Brandenburg hunting game with his friend in a so called ‘Treibjagd’ – a shoot where beaters drive the prey towards the guns.
Quite what Harry’s new fiancé, Meghan Markle, an animal lover who advocates adopting rescue dogs, thinks of his passion for hunting is not known.
Her own two pups, Bogart and Guy, who she says ‘mean the absolute world to me’, were rescued from an animal shelter in LA.
She also advocates the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, although this is largely for health rather than ethical reasons.
Former actress Miss Markle, 36, is currently visiting family and friends in the US and Canada, following the announcement of her wedding to the Queen’s grandson at Windsor Castle next May.
She is due to return to the UK soon to spend Christmas with the Royal Family.
Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, embraced the royal family’s love of hunting, as did her family. Her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, were even photographed deer stalking at the Queen’s Highland estate, Balmoral.
But he and Harry’s mother, Diana Princess of Wales, is said to have disliked hunting and after attempting to show interest the early years of her marriage to Prince Charles, quickly gave up all pretence.
Prince Harry (left) and Meghan Markle
Harry was memorably photographed with a one-tonne water buffalo he shot in Argentina in 2004, while on a gap year trip to the country.
And in 2014 he and his brother were criticised for hunting wild boar on a shooting trip to Spain, just a day before William was due to make a major public address to end the illegal wildlife trade.
In 1961, on an official visit to India with the Queen, Prince Philip, a former President of the World Wildlife Fund, shot a tiger at Ranthambhore, while a guest of the Maharajah of Jaipur.
On that same trip the royal, once a keen big game hunter who also shot stag, pheasant and grouse until recently, killed a crocodile and six urials, a type of mountain sheep.
His actions prompted widespread condemnation from British and Indian politicians, but, significantly, were not against the law at the time.
There is no suggestion that any member of the Royal Family has shot an animal illegally.
Indeed, all have heavily condemned the poaching of wildlife, particularly in Africa, with William and Harry leading recent efforts to curb the widespread slaughter of elephant and rhino, as well as other endangered animals such as the pangolin, for their horns.
But the royal family’s public stance on issues concerning wildlife continues, for many, to be difficult to reconcile with their private love of hunting for sport.
There was no word yesterday from the family of Prince Franz Albrecht zu Oettingen-Spielberg, who invited Harry on the shoot.
Kensington Palace also declined to comment.