Attacking the Queen

On 13th June 1981, a tourist in London photographed the Queen of England reviewing her troops at the annual Trooping the Colour. Six shots rang out and the Queen’s horse shied. Members of the crowd, police and troops guarding the ceremony quickly subdued the shooter, who told them “I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a somebody”.

On his return home, the tourist, Georg P. Uebel, developed his film and discovered the above picture, which he turned over to the British police. They used it to prosecute Marcus Sarjeant, an unemployed 17-year-old, inspired by the recent shootings of the Pope, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon, to attempt an assassination on the Queen. He only fired blanks, and the Treason Act sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence for what he did, not for what he might have done.

The picture was made public at his trial in May 1982 but did not attract that much attention. It was as LIFE magazine called it, “a misfired moment of minor note”. More shocking however was the fact that at the time of his arrest, Sarjeant had on him a tape noting his intent to attack the Queen again with a loaded weapon.

Sarjeant wrote to the Queen from prison to apologise, but he never received a reply. Released in October 1984, at the age of 20, he changed his name and disappeared into history, a mere footnote.

5 thoughts on “Attacking the Queen

  1. you should do a series on famous tourist photos of significant events. there seem to be quite a number especially of famous assassinations or near attempted assassinations and the people who took those iconic photos. It’s just an idea…

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