For many parents, deciding whether their child can play with a toy gun or not is a matter of personal preference. There are many arguments on both sides of the issue in regard to this matter. However, when a member of the royal family gets snapped playing with a toy gun, things get more complicated, as the general public steps in to voice their opinion on the matter.
Recently, Prince George, who is only 4-years-old, was attending a polo match with his parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Prince William was there to participate in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, last Sunday.
While there, it seems Kate had brought along toys to keep her young son occupied. Among those toys were “a toy gun, toy knife, and handcuffs,” according to Huffington Post.
Images have since emerged of Prince George playing with another child, both of which had toy guns.
According to the Huffington Post, Prince George currently has an interest in the police and that is likely the reason he was present at the polo event with toy guns, knives, and handcuffs. Previously, when his father, Prince William, visited Finland last November, the young prince had requested a toy police car via a Christmas wish list his father presented to Father Christmas in Helsinki. It was the only request on the list.
Then, at an event in March with the Metropolitan police, it was revealed that Prince George “does like the police at the moment.”
As a result of this interest, it seems his parents have allowed him to play with toy guns. However, as Parade has pointed out since the pictures were made public, there has been a backlash toward the royal family in relation to their toy choice for the future king of England. Many people, including those currently affected by mass shootings in the U.S., have raised the debate once more about gun regulations.
Here’s why the sight of #PrinceGeorge playing with a toy gun is triggering for some of us. Black mothers in the US have to teach their sons not to play with anything (a toy gun, a cell phone, etc.) a policeman could claim looked like a real gun. Their lives depend on it.
— Deesa Roberts (@DeesaRoberts) June 10, 2018
It’s not a joke some people lose their lives because their children thought they played with a toy and it was a real gun !! pic.twitter.com/IBJqQrXnef
— Just Juliette (@RoyalDetective8) June 10, 2018
Good job he’s a rich white kid otherwise there’d be uproar. Prince George plays with toy gun on family day out in the sun
— Sarah Taylor (@kippax1980) June 10, 2018
The debate is a hot topic, and the Independent pointed out that play like this may not be harmful to a child’s development.
“I understand why gunplay worries parents, however, research shows that any aggression demonstrated while engaging in ‘war play’ is not carried over into real life. ie: kids who play with guns become no more violent than those who don’t,” Sarah Ockwell-Smith, parenting expert and author of The Gentle Discipline Book told The Independent.
She also went on to explain that this sort of roleplaying can be a way for small children to help process what they see in the world around them.
“Pretend play is an important way for children to make sense of the world; in an age where guns are becoming more prevalent, gun-play helps them to process what they may see on the news, or indeed be subject to in real-life in a safe way.”
As well as being sighted at the polo match with a toy gun, Prince George was also filmed sliding down a steep embankment at the event as he and his sister, Princess Charlotte, attempted to clamor to the top. At one point, Kate Middleton was seen charging down the same slope after them — all the while wearing a pair of wedges.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s brother, 7-week-old Prince Louis, was absent from the event.