With Queen Elizabeth II just hours from returning to Windsor Castle after an Easter break in Sandringham, security at her primary residence should have been watertight. Instead, local police had to step in and remove a trespasser who had used a disguise to trick his way into spending a night with Her Majesty’s royal guardsmen.
Dressed as a priest, the man arrived at the barracks of the Queen’s Household Division soldiers on April 26, claiming to be a friend of the Coldstream Guards’ military chaplain. Despite his unexpected evening arrival at the gates of Victoria Barracks, the unnamed man was given entry to the building, which sits just 250 meters away from the queen’s Windsor Castle apartment. He then spent the night eating and drinking with senior officers, and was even offered a bed for the night.
A source told Britain’s TalkTV, which broke the story, “[He] said his name was Father Cruise and claimed to be a friend of the battalion’s Padre, the Rev. Matt Coles. He was invited in and offered something to eat in the Officer’s Mess.”
“Within a couple of hours, he was drinking with the officers in the bar and telling them stories of how he had served in Iraq,” the source continued. “He was telling lots of tall stories and the lads were enjoying his banter and having a few drinks. It was only later when he started talking about how he had worked as an ejector-seat test pilot and had some organs replaced that the chaps started to get suspicious.”
Although there were suspicions that the man was not a bona fide priest, additional security checks weren’t carried out, or authorities alerted, until the following morning—just three hours before the queen returned to Windsor Castle after spending her 96th birthday on the Sandringham estate.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police, which serves the Windsor area, confirms to BAZAAR.com, “We received a report of an intruder at Victoria Barracks in Sheet Street, Windsor, at 9:20 a.m. on Wednesday [April 27]. Officers attended and removed the intruder from the barracks. No further action was required.”
A major investigation has now been launched, with guardsman and staff working that day being called for interviews and surveillance footage being analyzed. “The Army takes this breach of security extremely seriously, and it will be thoroughly investigated as a matter of priority,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman tells BAZAAR. “This incident is now part of an ongoing investigation, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
This is not the first time the queen’s security has been breached. Last year, a man was sectioned under Britain’s Mental Health Act after he was apprehended on the grounds of Windsor Castle with a crossbow. And in 1982, Michael Fagan famously broke into Buckingham Palace two times, gaining access to Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom on his second attempt and having a 10-minute conversation with the pajama-clad monarch.
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