What would have been an unremarkable (yet cute!) royal outing has become a flashpoint of social media controversy after Prince George was photographed playing with a toy gun. The divisive photos were snapped as the future King of England — alongside mom Kate Middleton and sister Princess Charlotte — watched dad Prince William play in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy on Sunday, June 10 in Gloucester, England.

After the photos surfaced, Twitter users were quick to criticize the royal family, especially because gun violence is excruciatingly high and police officers have killed children holding fake guns. "Completely tone deaf of Kate to give Prince George a toy gun. Doesn't she read the papers in her own country with all the gun deaths? If [Meghan Markle] had done this, she would be excoriated in the media! Lucky George isn't black or police would have shot him," tweeted @Lewisno1fan.

prince george toy gun getty

"This isn't okay anymore," wrote @daisytorme. "My American side here, biased maybe [because] of everyday #gunviolence in [the] USA, but my British side agrees. No child in this day and age should look at any gun as a fun toy. This looks far too real. (And I LOVE Prince George, don't get me wrong!)"

And @DeesaRoberts broke down the backlash, writing, "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."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUHQVK5FkKw

Some Twitter users, however, said George should be free to play with the toy. "People are complaining because Prince George had a plastic gun," @Roxanne_Tegan tweeted. "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."

And some people, like @chelseamacg, started name-calling: "Prince George sitting out in the sun playing with toy guns and water pistols like every other normal child in the world is not the problem. It's the freaks who actually think it's newsworthy enough to pass comment and who are dying to be offended by it who are the problem." So far, the royal family hasn't commented on the controversy. Perhaps they'll have to, though, if this social media debate reaches a critical mass.

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