Kidnaps, shootings and intruders: UK royal security dramas

Latest incident sees a man armed with a knife arrested days before King Charles III's coronation

Britain's King Charles III reacts after an egg was thrown in his direction during a ceremony in York, northern England in 2022 as part of a two-day tour of Yorkshire. AFP
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The UK royal family were given a stark reminder of the dangers to their safety when a man was arrested just days before the coronation of King Charles III on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.

The drama unfolded on Tuesday evening after the man approached the gates to Buckingham Palace and threw several items into the grounds suspected to be shotgun cartridges and was allegedly found carrying a knife.

With hundreds of world leaders arriving in London, the security services are carrying out one of the biggest operations in recent years to protect the coronation route.

It will see rooftop snipers and undercover officers, as well as airport-style scanners, sniffer dogs and a no-fly zone over central London.

Alec Galloway, a member of the Scots Guards who tackled a gunman who fired six shots at Queen Elizabeth II during the 1981 Trooping the Colour, has praised the security services.

“It is very sad that this has happened during the build up to the coronation,” he said.

“But the security will be very high and they will be ready for anything, as they have been during this incident. These incidents are happening more than usual.”

The day the queen was shot at six times

Over the years there have been repeated incidents targeting the royal family.

It was during the 1981 Trooping the Colour that Mr Galloway tackled Marcus Sarjeant after he fired six shots from the crowd at the queen.

The then 37-year-old lance corporal feared the queen would be killed and launched himself at the attacker.

It led to Mr Sarjeant becoming the first person since 1966 to be prosecuted under the 1842 Treason Act and he was sentenced to five years for his “wicked” intention.

Princess Anne survived armed kidnap attempt

In 1974, Princess Anne was subjected to a kidnap attempt as she returned to the palace following a charity event.

Unemployed labourer Ian Ball had hired a van and forced her car to stop, before firing shots at her chauffeur and bodyguard.

He climbed into her car and ordered her to get out to which she replied: “Not bloody likely.”

An amateur boxer walking by came to her rescue and repeatedly punched Ball.

Police later found a ransom note for almost $4 million.

Ball, then 26, was prosecuted for attempted murder of the bodyguard and sentenced to life imprisonment in a psychiatric hospital.

Intruder sat on queen's bed

In July 1982, 31-year-old painter and decorator Michael Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace's four-metre walls, entered the palace and made his way to the queen’s bedroom where she was sleeping.

She woke and alerted her security staff.

It was one of the biggest royal security breaches of the 20th century.

Mr Fagan's actions were, at the time, a civil wrong rather than a criminal offence, so he was not charged with trespassing.

Eggs thrown at King Charles

Last year a man threw five eggs at King Charles during a visit to York.

Patrick Thelwell, 23, hurled the eggs towards the king and Queen Consort Camilla last November, but luckily all five missed.

He was found guilty of a public order offence after he admitted throwing the eggs, but claimed it was “lawful violence”.

Convicted murderer Denis Hennessy scaled the palace wall

In 2016, convicted murderer Denis Hennessy scaled the perimeter wall and got within metres of the queen.

After 10 minutes of walking around, he was apprehended by officers.

He told them he was admiring the view and asked: “Is ma’am in?”

Hennessy had a previous conviction for murdering a homeless man with an iron bar.

Terrorist armed with sword went to the palace

In 2016, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28, from Luton, was found outside the palace with a sword.

He was cleared of attacking police officers with the weapon but was later convicted of plotting terror attacks.

The jury in the palace incident believed his claims that he had not intended to harm anyone and that he simply wanted to commit suicide, to be shot dead by armed police.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 1:06 PM