By Gordon Rayner
Buckingham Palace says hunting trophies will be removed if there is any doubt whether they comply with EU regulations on endangered species
Hunting trophies including ivory and rhino horn may be removed from public display at the Queen's Sandringham estate following questions over whether they contravene EU rules on endangered species.
Royal Household staff are currently reviewing the 62 specimens in the trophy room at the Queen's Norfolk home, where the Royal family will spend Christmas next week.
The Telegraph has been told that if there is the slightest doubt that any of the items on display, which also include a tiger skin and stuffed lions, comply with complex EU regulations they will be removed before the house re-opens to the public in April.
The trophy room could become something of an embarrassment to the Duke of Cambridge, who has made stamping out the illegal wildlife trade his number one priority.
Carved elephant tusks, a table made from rhino horns, a stuffed baby white rhino and a stuffed head of an adult white rhino are all part of the display which "recreates the look and feel of an Edwardian smoking room".
All of the items were collected between 1870 and 1941, including seven animals that were killed by Edward VII and George V. None were killed by current members of the Royal family, but even antique specimens are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
CITES prohibits the use of specimens for commercial purposes, such as displaying them in a museum or collection, without a special certificate, known as an Article 10 certificate. However, items that have been carved, stuffed or "significantly altered from their raw state" are exempt.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The EU regulation covering such displays is complex and has been open to interpretation. At Sandringham the understanding has always been that items on display in the museum are exempt from the need for an Article 10 certificate.
"However in any case where there is a genuine doubt the relevant specimen will be removed from display before the museum re-opens in April 2015."
It is understood that there are concerns over a "handful" of the exhibits, and rather than getting involved in a debate with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which administers the EU regulations, the Palace will err on the side of caution.
Royal Household staff are also likely to take into account the wishes of the Duke of Cambridge, who has suggested in the past that all ivory in the Royal Collection should be destroyed.
It is not the first time the Royal family has been open to allegations of hypocrisy over its stance on wildlife. The Duke of Cambridge was criticised in February when he went to Spain to hunt wild boar and stags the weekend before he launched a campaign to end poaching in Africa.
The trophy room is one of 15 rooms at Sandringham which are open to the public between April and November each year.