FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Boy Who Shot the Queen of England

It’s difficult to believe that the British Queen, Elizabeth, is 136 years old.  She was actually born in April 1926 and is physically only 86, but if you include the extra Official Royal Birthday she has celebrated every June since her Coronation in 1952, you’re looking at an extremely elderly senior citizen.

Of course she’s  not really a ‘citizen’.  She’s the Queen, the reigning monarch of Britain, and since 1748 the Trooping of the Colour Ceremony, held at Horse Guards Parade near Whitehall in central London, has also marked the Sovereign’s official second birthday – Saturday the sixteenth of June 2012 being no exception.

The Trooping the Colour ceremony originated from traditional preparations for battle, when flags, or colours were carried, or “trooped”, down the ranks of soldiers so that they could be seen and recognised.  It’s now a lavish military spectacle with some 1,600 officers and men in the traditional uniforms of the Household Cavalry, Royal Horse Artillery and Foot Guards, with over 200 horses, and massed and mounted bands.

Being Head of the Armed Forces, it is fitting that the queen be there to inspect the troops, along with other members of her family dressed in military regalia and decorated with medals – husband Prince Phillip, Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, sons Prince Charles and Edward, Colonels of the Welsh Guards and of the Scots Guards respectively, daughter Princess Anne, Colonel of the Blues and Royals, and grandson William, Colonel of the Irish Guards.  Other senior royals present at the ceremony this year included Prince Harry, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Andrew the Duke of Kent  with his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie.  Prime Minister David Cameron and the King of Jordan were also honoured guests.

The reptile-faced 91 year old Duke of Edinburgh, surprisingly frisky and chipper after his recent hospitalization for a urinary infection, wore a bearskin helmet identical to those worn by the hundreds of soldiers lined up for inspection in their bright red tunics.  Just think how many poor bears were cruelly killed to provide this pompous and preposterous headgear!  But that’s another story.

The Queen arrived in a glass coach, and  took the royal salute wearing a primrose yellow coat and dress with matching hat – a far cry from the pre-1987 days when she used to arrive mounted side-saddle on her loyal steed ‘Burmese’ and inspect the troops dressed in the uniform of the regiment whose Colour was being trooped.  She was thus accoutred on June 13th 1981 as she passed down the Mall towards  Horseguards Parade, when a teenager armed with a gun stepped out of the cheering crowd which lined the route and fired six rapid shots at Her Majesty.

Alarmed at the disturbance, ‘Burmese’ shied and cantered a few steps but was quickly subdued by the equestrian-savvy queen.  The young assailant was pounced upon by men in the crowd and disarmed before police quickly arrived to arrest him.  The weapon turned out to be a Jackal Python starting pistol, and the shots were blanks.

The 17 year old would-be assassin, described as a shy loner haunted by failure, was named as Marcus Simon Sarjeant, a former Boy Scout from a small town near Dover.  After finishing school he had applied to join the Royal Marines, but left after 3 months, unable to cope with the bullying of officers.  Similar experience made him give up hopes of joining the Army after only two days on an induction course.  After failed attempts to join the Police Force and the Fire Brigade, Sarjeant was unemployed and living with his mother, his father absent, working abroad.  Friends said that he had joined an ‘Anti-Royalist’ group.

Questioned by police as to why he had pulled the stunt, Sarjeant told them that he was inspired by the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 and recent attempts at that time on the lives of US President Ronald Reagan and the Pope.  Unable to get hold of a real gun, he had opted for the blank-firing revolver which he bought through mail order.

Police investigating his home found he had written in a diary: “I am going to stun and mystify the whole world with nothing more than a gun – I will become the most famous teenager in the world. ” In the run-up to the Trooping the Colour ceremony, Serjeant had sent letters to magazines, one of which included a picture of him with his father’s Webley revolver (which had no ammunition.) He had also sent a letter to Buckingham Palace which read:

“Your Majesty. Don’t go to the Trooping the Colour ceremony because there is an assassin set up to kill you, waiting just outside the palace.”

The letter arrived on June 16th, three days late.

Charged with an offence under the 1848 Treason Act in that he “wilfully discharged at or near Her Majesty the Queen a gun with the intent to alarm or distress Her Majesty,” Sarjeant was found guilty by Chief Justice Lord Lane, who sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment, saying that “the public sense of outrage must be marked. You must be punished for the wicked thing you did, not for what you might have done”.   An appeal against the length of the sentence was refused, and a letter to the Queen apologizing for his action was ignored.

After 3 years in jail, mostly in psychiatric prison, Marcus Sarjeant was released in 1984 at the age of twenty.  The boy who had wanted to be “the most famous teenager in the world” changed his name and disappeared without a trace.

The 1848 Treason Act makes it a crime ‘to produce a gun or other firearm near the Queen with the intention to use it, even though the person holding it may be stopped before firing.’  After inspecting the hundreds of soldiers with their rifles and bayonets at this year’s Trooping of the Colour, while the Queen was driven back to Buckingham Palace waving to the cheering crowds gathered along the Mall, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a gun salute in Green Park, and the Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62-round gun salute from the Tower of London to mark her official birthday.

Bang,  bang!  Ironic, eh?

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website.


More articles by:

Michael Dickinson can be contacted at michaelyabanji@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
Charles Pierson
With Enemies Like These, Trump Doesn’t Need Friends
Lawrence Davidson
The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Scourge in the White House
Urvashi Sarkar
“Not a Blade of Grass Grew:” Living on the Edge of the Climate Crisis in the Sandarbans of West Bengal.
Thomas Knapp
Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
Dean Baker
Is There Any Lesser Authority Than Alan Greenspan?
Gary Leupp
Warren’s Ethnic Issue Should Not Go Away
George Ochenski
Memo to Trump: Water Runs Downhill
Jeff Cohen
What George Carlin Taught Us about Media Propaganda by Omission
Stephen Martin
The Perspicacity of Mcluhan and Panopticonic Plans of the MIC
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail