A narrow escape | Sunday Observer

A narrow escape

20 November, 2022

The late Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is one such leader who has been the Head of State not only in one country but also in many other countries for nearly seven decades and was highly respected by people all over the world.

From June 1953, Queen Elizabeth was the Head of State with nominal powers and the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations including Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. During her life span of nearly a century, she has faced many sweet as well as bitter experiences.

Queen Elizabeth with her husband, Prince Philip, was travelling by train from Sydney, Australia to New South Wales on April 29, 1970, during a private visit. The train was running through a hilly area and the train collided with a large log placed across the track and suddenly crashed in a way that no one expected.

Albert Rowley, the engine driver, was driving the train that day and saw something on the track from a distance. He immediately took action and applied the brakes as hard as he could, causing the train to stop when it hit a log.

As the railway line had been fully inspected an hour before the incident, many believe that some person or group may have deliberately placed a log across the railway line with the intention of killing the royal couple. It is said that if the train’s brakes had not been activated, the train would have derailed and hit a nearby wall.

Annual royal event

Thousands of people including members of the royal family, soldiers and musicians participate in ‘Trooping the Colour’, an annual royal event in the UK. A large number of horses also participate in it. This event, which is held every year in June, was held on 13 June, 1981. On that day, Queen Elizabeth II also participated and she had to face an unexpected event. At the time, a 17-year-old fired six blank shots at the queen in the midst of thousands of people.

The queen was riding a horse that day. The Queen remained on the horse unperturbed until the policemen caught the shooter. In a short time, the security personnel caught the shooter and the Queen rode her horse as usual among the people. Under the Sedition Act introduced in 1842, the suspect was sentenced to five years in prison. However, he was pardoned and released in 1984.

Four months after that incident, the Queen had to face another assassination attempt. The Queen was visiting New Zealand with Prince Philip on 14 October, 1981. It is said that 17-year-old John Lewis, who was hiding in a toilet of a building in Dunedin, New Zealand, had been planning to shoot the royal couple for some time. As the royal couple got out of their Rolls Royce, Lewis fired a rifle at them, but the bullet was deflected and did not harm the Queen or Prince Philip. Afraid that the royal couple would never return to New Zealand if they heard the sound was a gunshot, the police officers told the royal couple that it was the sound of something rolling over or the sound of firecrackers.

After that, Lewis is said to have planned to assassinate Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Charles. However, he was jailed for another offense and committed suicide there. He was quoted as saying of the attempted murder of the Queen with other inmates while in prison: “Damn, I missed it”. It is said that this event also became public after a considerable period of time.

A man named Michael Fagan broke into the Queen’s bedroom on July 9, 1982, carrying a piece of glass from a broken ashtray. It is unclear why he broke into the bedroom. It is said that he climbed on the rain gutters and entered the queen’s room by going down through a water pipe.

On the way to the Queen’s room, he saw an ashtray in another room, broke it and entered the Queen’s room with a piece of it in his hand at around 7.15 in the morning. Within minutes he drew the curtains in the Queen’s room and by then the Queen was sleeping there alone.

However, he was unable to enter the room as the Queen screamed for help. He has later said that he wanted to cut his hand in front of the Queen. He said that he did not enter the palace with that purpose, but after seeing the ashes, he got the idea. He later said that he had tried to enter the Queen’s room the day before too.