A SCOUT group has provoked outrage by staging a mock kidnapping of Kate Middleton in an exercise designed to teach young people how to read maps.

Nearly 300 children aged 11-15 were involved in the orienteering event. Children watched as explorer scouts played the parts of Prince William and Kate Middleton before balaclava-wearing 'terrorists' swooped in and abducted the girl playing the future queen.

The Prince William character appealed to the scouts to help him find his fiancee and teams of scouts then hunted for clues during a 12-mile trek.

The event, intended as harmless fun by organisers, has raised eyebrows among local politicians.

Amersham Town Council member Ros Aitken was shocked.

She said: "I'm horrified that something like this has taken place.

"I didn't know anything about it, but it does sound inappropriate."

Councillor Davida Allen added: "I think the Scout movement is fabulous, but it does seem a bit of a strange way to do a search and rescue task."

Since becoming engaged to Prince William last November, security has been stepped up around Miss Middleton amid fears she could become a terrorist target.

Event organiser Brian Shelley jumped to the defence of the task.

"I don't think it was inappropriate. The scouts loved it and found it very amusing. Nobody raised any concerns on the day, so I'm surprised to hear if there were any," he said.

Nearly 300 children took part in the event organised by 2nd Amersham Common Scouts, with older explorer scouts taking the acting roles.

Mr Shelley added: "We came up with the idea as we wanted to mark the royal wedding - nobody mentioned any issues with it.

"The scouts had to collect letters along the way and complete a puzzle which helped reveal her location."

The couple are due to marry on April 29. Clarence House declined to comment on the criticism levelled at the game.

* Was the royal kidnapping inappropriate or harmless fun? Email lawrencepoole@trinitysouth.co.uk.