The Royal Family is facing criticism after Prince George was photographed playing with a toy gun.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, brought Princess Charlotte and Prince George to the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy on Sunday to watch Prince William play. The 4-year-old prince was photographed playing with a black toy gun.

Many people have heaped criticism on the Duchess, formerly known as Kate Middleton, and the Royal Family for allowing him to play with the gun.

“Sad to see George playing with a gun when the whole country has a gun/knife crime situation. Maybe in training for killing wild life in later years. Thought he was a sensitive child. Better if he was seen playing with a toy car or football. Sadly the royals will never change,” one critic tweeted. 

According to British police statistics, the U.K. saw an 11 per cent rise in gun crimes last year and a 22 per cent rise in knife crimes, which has led to mounting public concern over violent crime prevention.

Royal fans from the U.S., a country that has already seen more than 100 mass shootings this year, were also critical of the prince’s toy.

“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,” one user tweeted.

“A black kid ( 7 ) have been killed by the US police because he played in the park like he has a gun ( he didn’t even have a fake gun) so yeah seeing the media praised Prince George to do that is scary and dangerous,” said another

Despite the backlash, many people rallied in support around the Royal Family.

“I had a plastic gun when I was little guess what I grew out of it I didn’t grow up to be a mass shooter or become obsessed with guns I hate guns now so just leave the boy alone and let him be a child,” one user tweeted.

“People are freaking out because Prince George plays with TOY guns. He is a child! Let him be a child! Another child was pictured playing with a toy gun, but no freak-outs there.  Naturally everyone leapt at George & his mother. Would a toy guillotine be better for you?! Grow up,” another said

Others pointed out that between the Royal Family’s hunting trips, armed guards, and military service legacy, Prince George has likely been exposed to real guns.

“Cute of everyone to be appalled by little Prince George's toy gun, as if he won't be blasting a real one at Balmoral deer in a couple of years anyway,” one person tweeted.

One parenting expert cautioned the public not to criticize the Duchess of Cambridge too harshly.

“It’s all of their fault, if we are going to put blame on anybody,” Samantha Kemp-Jackson, host of the podcast Parenting Then and Now, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

Certainly, the Royal Family should have thought of the optics of their child, who is potentially the future monarch, carrying a gun in this time of great sensitivity.”