Windsor Castle intruder threatened to kill the queen with a crossbow, court hears

Elizabeth II was at home when Jaswant Singh Chail was arrested

A court artist's sketch of Jaswant Singh Chail appearing by video link at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. PA
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A former supermarket worker who got into the grounds of Windsor Castle armed with a crossbow told British police he wanted to “kill the queen,” a court heard on Wednesday.

Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, is charged under the Treason Act with intending to “injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, or to alarm Her Majesty”. He has also been charged with threats to kill and possession of an offensive weapon.

Mr Chail was arrested at the royal residence west of London on Christmas Day last year, when the queen was staying there along with Prince Charles and other family members.

Prosecutors allege the unemployed man from Southampton in southern England was wearing a hood and a mask, and had been carrying a loaded crossbow with the safety catch off.

They say he told a police officer “I am here to kill the Queen,” before he was handcuffed and arrested.

Prosecutor Kathryn Selby said the Supersonic X-Bow weapon allegedly carried by Mr Chail had the potential to cause “serious or fatal injuries”.

He had spent months planning the attack and trying to gain access to the royal family, London's Westminster Magistrates' Court was told.

Prosecution lawyers maintain Mr Chail wanted revenge on the British establishment for its treatment of Indians and sent a video to about 20 people claiming he was going to assassinate the queen.

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"I am sorry for what I have done and what I will do. I am going to attempt to assassinate Elizabeth, queen of the royal family," he said in the video, in which he was seen holding a crossbow and wearing a face covering.

"This is revenge for those who died in the 1919 massacre," Mr Chail said, referring to an incident when British troops shot dead nearly 400 Sikhs in their holy city of Amritsar, north-western India.

"It is also revenge for those who have been killed, humiliated and discriminated on because of their race."

Indians have long demanded a formal apology from Britain for what is also known as the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, when British troops opened fire on unarmed civilians who had gathered to protest against a colonial law.

Queen Elizabeth laid a wreath at the site of the massacre during a visit to India in 1997 and referred to it as a "distressing example" of "difficult episodes" in the past.

To get close to the royal family, Mr Chail had tried to join the British Army and the Ministry of Defence Police, prosecutors allege. Searches of his home found a gas mask and rope.

Windsor Castle, to the west of London, has become the queen's main residence in recent years. Reuters

The prosecution said he had entered the grounds at 8.10am and was spotted by a protection officer in an area where the intruder would have access to the castle's private quarters.

The officer, who said Mr Chail looked like something out of a vigilante film or dressed for Halloween in his hood and mask, asked: "Can I help you?"

The court heard that Mr Chail responded: "I am here to kill the queen". The officer drew his Taser and shouted at Mr Chail to get on his knees and drop the crossbow. Mr Chail complied.

Mr Chail appeared remotely for the hearing from Broadmoor, a high-security psychiatric hospital.

He was not asked to enter a plea, and was ordered to be detained until his next court appearance on September 14.

A van believed to be transporting Jaswant Singh Chail arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court. AFP

The allegations against him are not being treated as a terrorism offence, Ms Selby said.

Charges under the Treason Act of 1842 are rare. In 1981, Marcus Sarjeant was charged under the act after firing blank shots at the queen as she rode on horseback in the Trooping the Colour parade in London. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.

The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious Treason Act of 1351 was William Joyce, a Second World War Nazi propaganda broadcaster known as Lord Haw-Haw. He was hanged for high treason in 1946.

Updated: August 17, 2022, 1:40 PM
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