15 Times People Tried to Kill the British Royal Family
We know the British royal family best for glitz and gossip, awe-inducing family photos, and Kate Middleton fashion aspirations. What we forget is the danger that comes with monarchy. Over the years, many have attempted assassinations on the royals. You won’t believe some of these bizarre plots.
First: Not even royal children are safe.
1. 2017: Islamic State threatens to kill Prince George
The Australian reports Islamic State extremists threatened to attack Prince George at his London school. In messages on the Telegram app, they said “even the royal family won’t be left alone.” It also read that for little George, “school starts early.”
The message allegedly also included words from a song which translate as, “when war comes with the melody of bullets, we descend on disbelief, desiring retaliation.”
The threats were posted to encrypted messaging service, Telegram, which has become popular among extremist groups. British intelligence has been monitoring the anonymous messaging service in an effort to stop potential terror attacks in the U.K.
Next: This marked the first time British forces took out its own citizens.
2. 2105: This extremist targeted citizens and royals
U.K. forces killed a British citizen in Syria after he directed a plot to kill the queen, The Telegraph reports. A RAF drone strike assassinated Islamic State member Reyaad Khan after security services uncovered his bid to stage a terror attack in the U.K. Two other ISIS fighters were killed in the attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Khan, 21, became a target after it emerged he was leading a plot to attack the V.J. Day commemoration services in London, government sources said. The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Prime Minister also attended the event in central London.
Next: This attack actually found tragic success.
3. 1979: Lord Mountbatten killed by the IRA
Lord Louis Mountbatten died when Irish Republican Army terrorists detonate a 50-pound bomb hidden on his fishing vessel Shadow V. Mountbatten, the second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was spending the day in Donegal Bay off Ireland’s northwest coast when the bomb exploded.
The assassination of Mountbatten came as the first blow struck against the British royal family by the IRA during its long terrorist campaign to drive the British out of Northern Ireland. Tensions remain high between Northern Ireland and the U.K., even today.
Next: A coincidence threw a wrench in this assassination plan.
4. 1970: The Lithgow Plot failed in Australia
The Lithgow Plot, as it became known, marked an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Philip, while on a royal tour in Australia. The pair were traveling from Sydney to Orange in 1970 when their train struck a large wooden log. Someone allegedly placed it the tracks in hopes of causing the train to derail as it came barreling full speed down the track.
For some reason, the train traveled at an unusually slow speed that day, giving railroad operators time to move the log. Security forces kept the royal couple in the dark about the murder plot to avoid embarrassment for the Australian government, The Daily Mail reported.
Next: These deranged people wanted to stab the queen.
5. 2014: A foiled knife attack against the queen
The New York Post explains that four ISIS terrorists planned to kill the queen in 2014 but British security forces prevented the attack. The assassins intended to stab Queen Elizabeth II as the country celebrated 96 years since the end of World War I.
British police intercepted the murder plot by the four terrorists and conducted multiple raids in West London and Buckinghamshire. They believe the suspected terrorists planned to use a knife to kill the queen, but also reported they likely had firearms as well.
Next: This royal assassin idolized Lee Harvey Oswald.
6. 1981: A teenager shot at the queen
The BBC notes in 1981, Marcus Serjeant pointed a pistol directly at the queen as she turned down Horseguards’ Parade for the start of the Trooping the Colour ceremony.
He fired six blank cartridges before a guardsman and police overpowered him. The shots startled the queen and her horse Burmese, but she got the animal back under control and continued the parade. Afterward, the queen returned to Buckingham Palace by the same route, under the heightened watch of security services.
Next: This bloody plot against the royal family almost succeeded.
7. 1974: Attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne
According to The Smithsonian, seven men in total tried to stop Ian Ball, an unemployed laborer from north London, from kidnapping Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth’s daughter. A tabloid journalist, a former boxer, two chauffeurs, and three policemen all faced off against Ball, but the princess kept Ball distracted.
As the chauffeur drove down the mall, a white Ford Escort overtook the car and forced him to stop about 200 yards away from the palace. Ball exited the car and, holding two handguns, charged towards the rear of the limo. Police later found two pairs of handcuffs, Valium tranquilizers, and a ransom letter addressed to the queen in his car. After engaging in gunfire with Anne’s bodyguard, Ball turned to the rear door behind the driver’s seat and started shaking it.
“Open, or I’ll shoot!” he yelled. “Please, come out,” he pleaded. “You’ve got to come.”
“Bloody likely,” Anne responded.
Police eventually overtook Ball, and he was sentenced to life in a psychiatric facility.
Next: Scotland Yard came under criticism for this bizarre breach.
8. 1982: A man climbed a wall into the palace for a chat
Less than 10 years later, an unemployed man scaled the palace walls and sneaked into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom. According to The Washington Post, Michael Fagan, an unemployed laborer, climbed up a drainpipe to the queen’s private apartments. She woke to find Fagan in her bedroom and spent 10 minutes calmly talking to him.
She called attention to her uninvited guest after he asked for a cigarette and she called a footman. The armed police officer stationed outside of her bedroom had gone off-duty before his replacement arrived, leaving her unprotected. It took until 2007 for it to become a criminal offense to trespass on protected sites for 16 royal, governmental, and parliamentary places.
Next: This attempt uncovered a sinister plot against the royal family.
9. 1936: Lone gunman attempts to shoot Edward VIII
The Guardian recollects that Edward VIII, best remembered for his suspected Nazi sympathies, almost lost his life to one in 1936. As he paraded from Hyde Park, parade-goer Alice Lawrence noticed a man in a brown suit fiddling with something in his left hand and tapping his thigh with the newspaper in the other. As the king’s horse passed Lawrence, the man’s newspaper fell to the ground, revealing a revolver, which he pointed at the king.
Lawrence instinctively grabbed his arm and cried out. Special Constable Anthony Dick spun around and struck the man’s lower arm, causing the gun to fly into the roadway. The man, George Andrew McMahon, said he “only did it as a protest.” Special forces later discovered he harbored Nazi sympathies.
One of the first telegrams Edward received that afternoon came from Adolph Hitler. He wrote, “I have just received the news of the abominable attempt on the life of your majesty, and send my heartiest congratulations on your escape.”
Next: This man carried out one of eight attempts on Queen Victoria’s life.
10. 1840: ‘Baby-faced’ man attempts to shoot the queen
According to History.com, four months after their royal wedding, newlyweds Queen Victoria and Prince Albert departed Buckingham Palace in an open carriage for a ride through Hyde Park. Just 100 yards outside the palace gates, Albert noticed “a little mean-looking man holding something toward us.” Before he could react, 18-year-old bartender Edward Oxford fired his dueling pistol at the queen, who was four months pregnant at the time.
Although only six paces away, Oxford missed the queen, who thought the shot came from someone hunting birds in the nearby park. Just before Oxford fired a second time, the queen ducked. The crowd took the shooter to the ground, and the pair continued their ride as if nothing happened.
Next: This Irish revolutionary maintains he never meant to kill the queen.
11. 1872: Man attempts to kill queen on behalf of Ireland
As Queen Victoria’s carriage circled Hyde and Regent’s Park, Arthur O’Connor, 17, scaled the fence at Buckingham Palace and sprinted across the courtyard unseen. When the queen’s carriage reached the gates, O’Connor rushed up and pointed a pistol just a foot away from her.
The queen’s personal servant tackled him as the queen rushed to safety. It later came out that O’Connor’s pistol did not work. A descendant of Irish revolutionaries, O’Connor said he never intended to kill Queen Victoria, but frighten her into signing a document that would release Irish political prisoners. Sentenced to a year in prison and 20 strokes with a birch rod, O’Connor became exiled to Australia.
Next: This stalker came to a grisly end.
12. 2007-2011: He sent hundreds of threatening packages
The Telegraph tells the strange case of Robert James Moore, who died his late sixties. He reportedly sent hundreds of “strange and offensive” packages to the queen over a period of 15 years, including obscene photographs. Some of the letters reached 600 pages, and he also mailed a copy of his passport and boxes he falsely claimed contained dangerous substances.
At least three years after he last contacted the royals, Scotland Yard found his skeleton. It lay concealed on West Island in St. James Park, only about 100 yards from Buckingham Palace. Officials later said they did not suspect foul play.
Next: This near miss came as a total accident.
13. The queen’s own guard almost shot her
Speaking with The Times of London, a retired guardsman to the palace revealed he once almost shot the queen. Late at night, he once saw a figure walking in the dark on palace grounds.
“Bloody hell, your majesty, I nearly shot you,” he blurted, after he discovered the queen.
“That’s quite all right,” she answered. “Next time, I’ll ring through beforehand so you don’t have to shoot me.” The queen sometimes walks the grounds at night to deal with insomnia.
Next: Second time was not the charm for this assassin wannabe.
14. 1842: This man tried to kill royal family members twice
On May 29, 1842, John Francis tried to shoot the queen and Prince Albert as they left a church service. He then tried again on May 30. Police spent that day searching for the shooter, but Queen Victoria decided the best way to find him was to bait him. She and Prince Albert nervously set out to circle London for an evening drive in an open carriage.
“You may imagine that our minds were not very easy,” Albert wrote to his father, after the fact. “We looked behind every tree, and I cast my eyes round in search of the rascal’s face.” While incognito officers searched the crowd, a shot sounded just steps from the carriage. Police tackled the suspect, who missed his shot. Francis was later sentenced to be hanged and quartered, but the queen commuted his sentence to banishment for life.
Next: This attack marked the only time someone actually injured the queen.
15. 1850: Someone struck the Queen with a cane in 1850
After serving as a British Army officer, Robert Pate descended into lunacy. Londoners knew him for his manic behavior, like goose-stepping around Hyde Park. On one of his walks, Pate joined a crowd that gathered outside Cambridge House. At that time, Queen Victoria and her three children had been visiting her dying uncle.
As the royal family’s carriage stopped outside the gate, Pate approached it and smacked Victoria on the forehead with his cane. After the crowd apprehended the attacker, the queen stood up and told her subjects, “I am not hurt.” She did come away with a large bruise and a black eye, however. The court subsequently sentenced Pate to seven years in the penal colony of Tasmania.
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