He had entered Windsor Castle “to kill the Queen” because of the United Kingdom’s colonial past: a 21-year-old man admitted to justice on Friday that he wanted to attack Elizabeth II with a crossbow on Christmas Day 2021.
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Jaswant Singh Chail had been arrested on the morning of December 25, 2021, his face covered with a metal mask and carrying a crossbow near the apartments of the sovereign, 95 years old at the time. Prosecuted under the extremely rarely used “Treason Act”, he pleaded guilty during a hearing in London to having “deliberately produced or possessed a loaded crossbow with the intention of using it to injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, or to injure Her Majesty”.
Since he pleaded guilty, a trial will not be necessary. The judge announced that he would hand down his sentence on March 31. The young man also pleaded guilty to death threats and illegal possession of a weapon.
At the time of his arrest, after entering the perimeter of the castle, he told the police that he was “there to kill the queen”, according to the prosecution. He was then committed to psychiatric care.
Elizabeth II then spent the end of year celebrations – her last – in Windsor, her main residence, with her heir Charles, who became king when the sovereign died in September. She had given up traveling as she usually did to Sandringham, in the east of England, due to the resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK due to the Omicron variant.
She had been joined that day by several family members, such as her sons Charles and Edward and their wives.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Chail had sent a video shortly before taking action to around 20 people claiming that he was going to try to assassinate Elizabeth II. According to the prosecution, he explained that he acted out of resentment towards the British Empire, seeking revenge against the “establishment” for the treatment of Indians.
Shortly after the incident, the tabloid The Sun published images of a video claimed to have come from its Snapchat account.
In a black hoodie and a white mask, this former supermarket worker living in Southampton (south of England) handles the crossbow and says: “I am sorry for what I have done and what I will do. I will attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth”.
The incident had raised concerns about the security measures in place to protect the monarch. According to British media, Mr Chail had entered the territory of the castle using a rope ladder.
At the time, police pointed out that security procedures were “initiated moments after the man entered the site” and that he had not “entered any building”.
Intrusion attempts at Windsor as at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s residence in the heart of London, are however not exceptional.
The most spectacular dates back to 1982, in Buckingham, when a thirty-year-old, Michael Fagan, had managed to make his way to the bedroom of the queen who was in bed.
In 2021, a man with mental health problems was seen climbing the enclosure of the Royal Mews, the stables of the British royal family, then crossing it back in the opposite direction towards the street shortly after. He had been arrested quickly with cocaine and a kitchen knife. Elizabeth II was not there.
Since 1842, section 2 of the “Treason Act” punishes attempts to “injure or harm Her Majesty” but recourse to the text is extremely rare. The most famous case dates back to 1981 when Marcus Sarjaent was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to firing five blank shots at Elizabeth II during a parade.
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