THE Queen has ordered Prince Charles to give up hunting, which is opposed by a majority of British people and members of parliament, the Daily Mirror said yesterday.
The speculation came on a day when foxhunters pledged to defy Labour MPs' efforts to outlaw the sport.
More than 250,000 enthusiasts took part in 300 traditional Boxing Day hunts across the country, despite the shadow of a ban hanging over them.
"The Queen believes that continuing to hunt when the majority of MPs and the nation at large abhor it, is a step too far," a senior courtier was quoted as saying by the Mirror.
"It would be out of the question, of course, for Charles to continue hunting if a total ban is introduced.
"But the Queen believes that even if there is only a partial ban, Charles would court disaster for his future reputation if he overrode the will of the people."
Charles, his sons William and Harry and his mistress Camilla Parker Bowles regularly go hunting near Highgrove, the prince's residence west of London.
Under a new Bill put before the House of Commons on December 3, a permit may become necessary to practise hunting in England and Wales. Labour peer Baroness Mallalieu, a keen hunter, pledged to do everything in her power to prevent the bloodsport being banned completely. And she predicted she would be present at another hunt this time next year.
"Hunting has changed over the years that I've done it, every year there are changes, and I expect there will be more," she said.
"But I am equally sure the hunts will be meeting next year again."
Professor Andrew Linzey, who describes himself as an animal theologian at Oxford University, said: "You can no more license hunting with dogs than you can rape or child abuse or torture.
"Licensing is not just a fudge, it's worse than that."
The Countryside Alliance published an NOP poll showing that a majority of voters support allowing hunting to continue under a licensing system. But a separate Mori poll claimed 80 per cent of the public think hunting with dogs is cruel
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