The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were accused on Monday of “inadvertently” flouting the rule of six after meeting up with the Earl and Countess of Wessex with their children at a Christmas attraction.
The Cambridges were photographed at Luminate, a woodland walk on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, with their three children, Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, on Sunday evening.
They appeared to be with the Wessexes and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James Viscount Severn, 13.
Both groups arrived separately, the Cambridge’s from their Norfolk home, Anmet Hall, and the Wessexes from their home, Bagshot Park in Surrey.
They had been given consecutive slots to enter the mile-long illuminated trail, but fellow visitors said the two families were clearly mixing and chatting together.
Norfolk is in Tier 2, meaning that only six people can meet up outdoors if not from the same the same household.
The whole of Surrey, bar Waverley, is in Tier 4, meaning that residents should not travel into another tier.
One onlooker told the Daily Mail: “They were clearly breaking Covid rules, in my opinion, because there were nine of them from two separate households.
“I couldn’t help thinking it was one rule for them and another for the rest of us. It was really quite blatant.”
A royal source told the newspaper that any contact was inadvertent and that the two families had been given consecutive slots to the trail before it opened to the public.
“As anyone with young children will know, there are moments on the 90-minute walk where it was difficult to keep the two family groups apart, particularly at bottlenecks on the trail,” they said.