Kate Middleton waited for Meghan Markle to leave Sandringham before going hunting with her own shotgun, according to reports.

The Duchess of Cambridge , 36, joined husband Prince William for the shoot, after her pregnant sister-in-law had left, according to the Daily Mail.

There were rumours Meghan, 37, is against blood sports and was going to ban Harry from the traditional royal pheasant hunt.

But she put aside her objections and joined her husband's family, including the Duchess of Cambridge, for a lunch of cold cuts and salads after the Boxing Day shoot.

And Kate was eager to get among the action the next day, investing in her own 20-bore shotgun for the occasion.

A source told the paper: "She frequently goes out shooting when she is staying at Anmer Hall [the Cambridges' country home at Sandringham] and has become a really good shot.

"She is very much into the hunting, shooting and fishing country lifestyle. The 20-gauge smooth bore gun is ideal for shooting game birds."

Royals categorically denied Meghan had banned Harry from attending.

The insider added: "Meghan has realised that the royals have been doing this for centuries and aren't going to change their ways.

"She is not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but she doesn't like unnecessary cruelty to animals.

"Harry has explained to her that the numbers of birds need to be kept down on the estate and that this is all part of the management.

"She has accepted this but doesn't like watching it. She enjoyed the lunch and got on well with Kate, but I'm not sure how she would feel about Kate taking part."

Royals put on a united front for the festive season, despite claims Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton have a tense relationship.

The Duchesses walked side by side with broad smiles on their way to a Christmas service at Sandringham after months of speculation they had clashed.

In one incident, Meghan was even said to have made Kate cry over her strict demands for Princess Charlotte's bridesmaid's dress in the lead up to her May wedding.

The Boxing Day shoot is a longstanding tradition.

In her younger days, the Queen would even follow the shooting party, picking up pheasants and partridges that had been shot.

But yesterday, the 92-year-old stayed inside, with pregnant Meghan also avoiding the cold.

At lunchtime, the members of the Royal Family are understood to have gathered at Wood Farm, with Meghan arriving with the Queen and Prince Philip.