A 19 year-old man has been arrested following the incident on Christmas Day, while the Queen was in her personal quarters
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Armed police grabbed a Windsor Castle intruder who was carrying a crossbow today – as the Queen was preparing for Christmas mass.
Her Majesty was getting ready to greet sons Charles and Edward when security raised a “top-level emergency”.
A man had breached perimeter security – but detectives said he was seized before he could reach the building itself.
A 19-year-old man was arrested.
Security sources confirmed to the Sunday Mirror that the man was allegedly carrying a crossbow when stopped by police.
One source said: “Security controllers monitoring the CCTV couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the man carrying what appeared to be a crossbow and scrambled armed police to the scene immediately as a top-level emergency.
“A full-scale protection plan was executed to ensure the safety of the Queen, who was in her personal quarters.
“It was a really professional response from everyone but it was hugely alarming to witness the intruder on the scene. There were real concerns the situation could have massively escalated having such a dangerous weapon to deal with.
“When word got out that he had been apprehended, everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief – but it’s obviously tremendously concerning.”
The Queen was at Windsor for her first Christmas since her beloved husband Prince Philip died.
Plans for a traditional stay at Sandringham were abandoned because of Covid.
A royal source said: “It is obviously a worry to have to deal with a break-in like this, especially after Her Majesty has been through so much this year and in the lead-up to Christmas.
“There will have to be a major evaluation of the security procedures and protocols after this event.
“Fortunately the intruder was apprehended and police were on the scene almost immediately, but there is a chill in the air over what could have been.”
Thames Valley’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber said the force would be liaising with Scotland Yard – responsible for policing Windsor – as part of a joint probe.
He said: “Everybody will be naturally shocked to hear the news but I think the encouraging thing is that it seems the security measures were effective.
“This individual was arrested at the earliest opportunity and had not entered any buildings. I’ve spoken to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and we want reassurances about the security.”
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The Queen was told of the security breach as she was preparing to greet Charles, 73, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 74, for the service at St George’s Chapel.
Prince Edward, 57, his wife Sophie, 56, and their children, Louise, 18, and James, 14, were also visiting Her Majesty.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “Officers responded to a security breach at around 8.30am within the grounds of Windsor Castle. A 19-year-old from Southampton has been arrested.”
Supt Rebecca Mears added: “The man has been arrested on suspicion of breach or trespass of a protected site and possession of an offensive weapon.
“We can confirm security processes were triggered within moments of the man entering the grounds and he did not enter any buildings.
“Members of the Royal Family have been informed about the incident. We do not believe there is a wider danger to the public.”
The man was taken to Maidenhead police station, where he continued to face questions last night. It is believed to be at least the third major security breach at Windsor in the past year.
Five intruders made it on to royal grounds – two incursions coming just days apart, in April.
The trespassers included a woman who was allowed into Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge after claiming she was his fiancée and that they had a lunch appointment. She spent 20 minutes in the lodge before being challenged.
Dai Davies, former chief superintendent and head of the royal protection unit, said a “major review” of the Queen’s security will be needed.
He said: “Yet another intruder on the Windsor estate should set alarm bells ringing.
“I would predict a major review will be needed after this latest incident, which is incredibly worrying, especially as this individual was apparently armed. We don’t know their background or motive but clearly this is a major security issue.
“With the Queen in residence and other members of the Royal Family being welcomed for Christmas Day, there would have been a heightened level of protection in place, securing the outer cordon and inner cordon of the castle. This is a very worrying event that will need to be evaluated at the highest level.
“Due to the sheer size of Windsor Castle, several organisations will be involved, from royalty protection, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan police. The next time could always be far worse and that is a huge worry.”
The incident is the latest in a catalogue of royal security breaches down the years.
In 1982, 31-year-old schizophrenic Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace, found his way into the Queen’s bedroom and sat on her bed as he chatted to the monarch.
In September 2013 a security review was launched after an intruder was able to scale a fence and get inside the Palace, before being arrested by police.
In 2016, convicted murderer Denis Hennessy scaled the perimeter wall of the Palace and walked around the gardens for 10 minutes, before asking armed guards: “Is Ma’am in?” He was jailed for four months.
In 2018 a homeless man was jailed for 28 days after he trespassed in the grounds of the Palace and damaged items before he fell asleep.
And in 2019, a 22-year-old man managed to break into the grounds and started banging on doors. He was held on suspicion of trespassing.