Muhammad Khan appears in court over queen's coffin incident in Westminster Hall

The 28-year-old was charged with two counts under the Public Order Act

Members of the public pay their respects at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall, London. Reuters
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A 28-year-old man who appeared to grab the flag draped over Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin planned to trespass at royal residences including Buckingham Palace because he did not believe she was dead, a court has heard.

The live feed of the queen lying in state briefly cut away after Muhammad Khan allegedly left the queue in Westminster Hall on Friday night.

Police arrested Mr Khan and he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, charged with two counts under the Public Order Act.

Prosecutor Luke Staton said Mr Khan had being among about 250,000 people who filed through the hall between 5pm Wednesday until early Monday morning to pay their respects after queuing for hours along the banks of the Thames River.

“The defendant had reached Westminster Hall. He was then seen by officers, who were present, to approach the coffin,” he said.

“He stepped off the carpet in the direction of the catafalque, then grabbed hold of the Royal Standard flag draped over the coffin with both of his hands.”

The court heard he was quickly detained, arrested and interviewed by police.

“The defendant did express the idea that the queen is not dead and that he approached the coffin because he wanted to check for himself,” said Mr Staton.

“He did say, prior to the state funeral, he was planning on going to the funeral.

“He planned to write to the royal family and if they did not reply, he planned to go to Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Balmoral to try to speak to the queen.”

The court heard Mr Khan said that if he was unsuccessful, “I would have to trespass in order to try and make contact”. When asked how many times he would try, he replied: “As long as I’m living.”

District Judge Michael Snow did not address questions to Mr Khan, who was not represented by a lawyer, after doctors assessed him as being unfit to take part in proceedings.

The court heard he was suffering from delusions and the judge told him: “At the time, when you were in Westminster, you didn’t accept that the queen was dead and that was the reason you were moving towards the coffin to satisfy yourself that she was.

“He is delusional still and thinks the queen is not dead, thinks King Charles has something to do with it and may go to Windsor Castle to pay his respects but also because he still thinks she is alive.”

Mr Khan spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and that he was staying at a friend’s address in Wood Green, north London, during the hearing.

The judge granted him bail on condition he remains in an east London mental health hospital until his next appearance at the same court on October 18.

It comes after Mark Hague, 52, admitted to a charge under Section 5 of the Public Order Act on Monday after he was escorted from the queue in Victoria Tower Gardens on Saturday morning.

A mourner raised the alarm after Mr Hague was heard to say: “I will tell her to get out of her [expletive] coffin because she’s not dead.”

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Hague was arrested after he became abusive towards police officers and members of the public as he was led away from the scene.

He was fined £120 ($137), which was deemed served because of the time he had spent in custody, but fined a further £120 as he was the subject of a conditional discharge for a previous assault on an emergency worker.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 8:23 AM
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