In what marks the first-ever criminal conviction to take a bite out of a royal family member, Princess Anne on Thursday pleaded guilty to letting her pit bull run loose and attack two children in a public park last April, PEOPLE reports.
Anne, 52, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, was ordered to pay a fine of 500 pounds ($785) and fork over another 250 pounds ($393) to each of the boys attacked — two cousins, ages 7 and 12 — at Windsor Great Park near Windsor Castle.
Princess Anne could have faced a much harsher penalty — namely serving six months in prison, or seeing her 3-year-old pit bull terrier Dotty put to sleep. But Judge Penelope Hewitt opted for a warning, ordering that the dog “be kept under control for the rest of her life. … If there is a repetition, that is the end of it.”
The family of the boys (whose names were not disclosed for legal reasons) said the punishment was not harsh enough.
“We do not think justice has been done,” they said in a statement. “The dog is still free and is a danger to society. Our children were lucky that they avoided grievous injuries — other children may not be so lucky.”
Dotty was one of three bull terriers Anne brought out into the park on April 1. The dog, owned by the princess and her husband, Commodore Tim Laurence, bit the 12-year-old boy once on the collar bone and twice on the left leg. The 7-year-old also had bite marks, to the back of his left leg. Both children required hospital treatment, but the injuries weren’t serious enough to require stitches.
Anne’s lawyer, Hugo Keith, told the court that she had accepted responsibility and apologized “profusely” to the boys, and she helped get them medical attention at the time of the attack. Keith also defended the dog, saying Dotty was “good-natured” and “wholly lacking in malice.”