The Duke of Edinburgh was at the centre of an animal cruelty row yesterday after a fox was clubbed to death with a flagpole during a royal shoot.
The animal was initially shot and badly injured when it broke cover during a pheasant shoot at Sandringham, the Queen's private estate in Norfolk. The animal lay twitching on the ground for up to five minutes before it was "finished off" by a beater.
Gordon Brown has condemned the manner of fox's death as 'completely unacceptable' and 'deplorable', leaving the Prime Minister isolated in his refusal to speak out.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a news conference with the Egyptian foreign minister on Monday, "We were disappointed there was not greater dignity given to the accused under these circumstances."
Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja said on Saturday evening that the European Union is opposed to the death penalty in all cases - including that of the Sandringham Fox.
"The European Union has always and consistently been against the use of capital punishment, also in this case",
Tony Blair last night broke his silence on the fox's death by acknowledging that the manner of his death was "completely wrong". But he coupled criticism of the chaotic scene with a plea for recognition of the vermin's crimes.
Until last night Mr Blair had refused to comment on the execution, despite a chorus from senior ministers, including the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and the chancellor, Gordon Brown, who both condemned the filming of the event as deplorable.