The Duchess of Cambridge went out shooting the day after her animal-loving sister-in-law left Sandringham.
Kate, 36, has become a keen markswoman – and has even invested in her own shotgun, sources say.
But she waited until after Meghan’s departure on Boxing Day to join her husband, Prince William, and other family members to blast pheasants, partridges and ducks on the Queen’s 20,000-acre Norfolk estate on Thursday.
Last week the Mail told how Prince Harry had joined his family for their traditional post-Christmas shoot, despite claims he was banned by his new wife, who is expecting their first child in the spring.
Kate, pictured collecting birds at a shoot with Prince William in 2007, is said to be a keen markswoman
Although Meghan, 37, did not take part on Boxing Day, she did join the family group for a merry lunch at Wood Farm, seen by many as a tacit endorsement of her husband’s controversial pastime.
Royal sources had categorically denied the duchess had made any effort to bar Harry.
Kate also joined the group for lunch, driving down to the farm with Meghan, the Queen and Prince Philip. But she was raring to get a gun in her hands the following day.
A royal insider said that the duchess has bought a 20-bore shotgun, which is much lighter and easier to use than the usual 12-bore. The source said: ‘She frequently goes out shooting when she is staying at Anmer Hall [the Cambridges’ country home at Sandringham] and has become a really good shot.
‘She is very much into the hunting, shooting and fishing country lifestyle. The 20-gauge smooth bore gun is ideal for shooting game birds.’
Kate Middleton on a grouse shoot in 2009. The Duchess waited until after Meghan’s departure on Boxing Day to join her husband, Prince William, and other family members to blast pheasants
Harry and Meghan’s absence at the shoot was notable, but sources have said that they were never expected to stay much beyond Boxing Day and it is believed the couple have gone on holiday now.
The insider told the Mail how the new duchess is slowly adjusting to royal traditions – although it was clear she is not entirely comfortable with the family’s love of hunting and shooting.
‘Meghan has realised that the royals have been doing this for centuries and aren’t going to change their ways,’ the source said.
‘She is not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but she doesn’t like unnecessary cruelty to animals.
‘Harry has explained to her that the numbers of birds need to be kept down on the estate and that this is all part of the management.
‘She has accepted this but doesn’t like watching it. She enjoyed the lunch and got on well with Kate, but I’m not sure how she would feel about Kate taking part.’
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate
It is the first time in recent years that mother-of-three Kate is known to have taken part in the annual shoot at Sandringham. Her participation is likely to enrage anti-bloodsports groups.
She has been seen shooting on the estate before and in her 20s was photographed deer stalking with her parents at Balmoral.
Kate is also said to be introducing her children George, five, Charlotte, three, and eight-month-old Louis to the post-Christmas tradition.
In years gone by, the Queen and royal wives would follow the shoot, often wringing the necks of injured birds.
But now the 92-year-old monarch and her 97-year-old husband turn up in a Range Rover just to watch for a while and enjoy the lunches.
‘The lunch is great fun, very relaxed,’ said the insider. ‘It won’t be too long before George is given a rifle as a present and he will be shooting too.’