By Daniel Sandford for the BBC
A man who arrived at Windsor Castle armed with a crossbow and told a protection officer “I am here to kill the Queen” has pleaded guilty to a charge under the Treason Act.
Jaswant Singh Chail, from Hampshire, was arrested on Christmas Day 2021, when the late monarch was living at Windsor due to the Covid pandemic.
At the Old Bailey earlier, Chail, 21, pleaded guilty to three charges.
He is the first person in the UK to be convicted of treason since 1981.
Chail, from North Baddesley, near Southampton, also admitted making threats to kill and possessing the loaded weapon in the castle. He is due to be sentenced at the same court on 31 March.
He was spotted by a royal protection officer in a private section of the castle grounds just after 08:10 GMT on 25 December 2021.
The officer was at a gate, leading to the monarch’s private apartments.
Chail, who was unemployed at the time but had worked for the Co-op supermarket, had climbed into the grounds using a nylon rope ladder, and had already been there for about two hours.
He was wearing a hood and a mask, and was described as “like something out of a vigilante movie”.
The officer took out his Taser, and asked him: “Morning, can I help, mate?” Chail replied: “I am here to kill the Queen.”
The protection officer immediately told Chail to drop the crossbow, get on his knees, and put his hands on his head. Chail complied and then said again: “I am here to kill the Queen.”
The crossbow was found to be loaded with a bolt and the safety catch was off.
Chail was also carrying a handwritten note, which read: “Please don’t remove my clothes, shoes and gloves, masks etc, don’t want post-mortem, don’t want embalming, thank you and I’m sorry.”
In a video posted on Snapchat minutes before he entered the castle, Chail said: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry for what I’ve done and what I will do. I will attempt to assassinate Elizabeth, Queen of the Royal Family.
“This is revenge for those who have died in the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It is also revenge for those who have been killed, humiliated and discriminated on because of their race.”
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place when British troops opened fire on thousands of people who had gathered in the city of Amritsar in India.
The death toll is disputed – but hundreds of people were killed and Indian sources put it nearer to 1000.
Also in the video and apparently referencing the Star Wars films, Chail said: “I’m an Indian Sikh, a Sith. My name was Jaswant Singh Chail, my name is Darth Jones.”
Prosecutors said the footage was recorded four days earlier and sent to about 20 people on his contact list 10 minutes before his arrest.
Chail’s crossbow was found to be comparable to a powerful air rifle with the potential to cause serious or fatal injury.
Prosecutors said crossbow bolts, a metal file and other items were later found in a hotel room where he had stayed the previous night.
It was also alleged Chail had previously tried to get close to the royals by applying to join the Ministry of Defence Police and the Grenadier Guards.
Commander Richard Smith, who leads the Met Police’s counter terrorism unit, said: “This was an extremely serious incident, but one which the patrolling officers who apprehended Chail managed with great composure and professionalism.
“They showed tremendous bravery to confront a masked man who was armed with a loaded crossbow, and then detain him without anyone coming to harm.”
Police said Chail’s actions were not treated as terrorism offences but the counter terrorism division was deemed the appropriate team to lead the investigation.
Chail is currently in Broadmoor Hospital where he appeared in court via a remote video link.
It was heard his mental health had improved with treatment and he would have been fit to stand trial.
The Queen had been staying at Windsor Castle for Christmas, rather than spending it as usual on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Her Majesty was due to be joined for lunch by the then Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Under the 1842 Treason Act, it is an offence to assault the Queen, or have a firearm or offensive weapon in her presence with intent to injure or alarm her or to cause a breach of peace.
In 1981, Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years under the section of the Treason Act after he fired blank shots at the Queen while she was riding down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Colour parade.
The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw, who collaborated with Germany during the Second World War.
Additional reporting by Toby Wadey
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz