London, Sep 3 (ANI): Prince Harry has been accused of animal cruelty after pictures of him riding an injured horse during a polo match surfaced.
In the pic, he is riding a pony that appeared to have been stabbed in the flank by his spurs.
The horse was injured during a match at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park in July, but pictures of the incident have just emerged.
An onlooker has claimed that the 25-year-old prince continued to ride his horse even when blood was visible on its flank.
However, St James's Palace has said he stopped playing as soon as the injury was spotted.
Animal welfare groups have accused Harry of being 'heartless'.
The Hurlingham Polo Association, the sport's governing body, has launched an investigation.
"It was a heartless and utterly selfish thing to do," the Daily Mail quoted Andrew Tyler of animal welfare charity Animal Aid as saying.
'Prince Harry comes from a background of hunting and shooting which is at odds with the vast majority of the British public," he added.
Tony Moore of the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe said: "Prince Harry is cruel. If a rider uses their spurs in a way that injures a horse then that is cruel."
Moreover, a spokesman said: "Prince Harry was wearing regulation footwear (round-headed spurs) worn by many polo players.
"As soon as the cut was noticed, play was stopped and the horse was treated properly. The horse was absolutely fine and returned to the field immediately.
He added: "Prince Harry takes the welfare of his horses incredibly seriously and has been riding this horse for many years.
"He has nothing but the highest respect for the polo ponies and would never knowingly do anything to cause the animals distress," he added. (ANI)