As members of the royal family, Prince William, Kate Middleton and their kids are under a microscope of sorts, and fans don't always react to their lives in the same way. That much became obvious this week when new pics of Middleton, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte playing in the park emerged.
In general, they show a fun afternoon in the sun that saw Charlotte and George messing around with toys, but a few images in which Prince George, 4, can be seen playing around with a plastic toy gun are causing controversy. The young royal is seen pointing the fake weapon at both friends and Middleton, and not everyone is thrilled about that.
The toy gun was part of a plastic set of "SWAT" toys, and came with handcuffs and a fake knife. (It appears that George, who asked for a toy police car for Christmas, is still very interested in law enforcement.) While it's not unusual whatsoever for kids to play pretend, some people are taking issue with Middleton for allowing him to play with a toy that looks so similar to a real-life gun.
These worries primarily stem from how some toy guns are made to look just like real ones, creating a fear that if presented with a real gun, the child won't understand the danger in it. Some also said that this was setting a poor example, especially as reports of deaths due to fake and toy guns continue emerging.
With gun violence protests on the rise in the U.S. following the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as well as the shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, critics are especially wary of what might be seen as the glorification or normalisation of guns. However, the issue of gun control is not quite as dominant in the U.K. Handguns were banned in the country following a 1996 mass shooting in an elementary school; more powerful weapons had already been banned prior to the shooting, according to CNBC.
Still, others think the critique is unfair and overly critical.
Is Middleton being mum shamed or fairly chastised? Clearly it depends on who you ask.
This article originally appeared on InStyle US.