Newly Revealed Documents Reveal an Assassination Attempt Against the Queen

A teenager from New Zealand fired a shot at the monarch.

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In 1981, a 17-year-old tried to assassinate the Queen, according to documents that remained secret until now, reports. The documents, which were from New Zealand’s intelligence agency, detail a plot by the teenager, Christopher Lewis, who tried to kill monarch while she was on a trip to Dunedin, New Zealand, on October 14 of that year.

“Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen, however did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target,” a 1997 memo detailed. That memo was part of a collection of documents that were declassified in February in response to a request from Fairfax Media. Stuff in New Zealand into the life and crimes of Lewis.

Lewis, who is described in the documents as “severely disturbed,” shot at the Queen as she got out of her vehicle. According to the , he hid in a deserted restroom cubicle on the fifth floor of a building overlooking her parade, but his shot didn’t go anywhere near the monarch.

Crowds and reporters heard the sound, and were told it wasn’t a gunshot, but instead a sign falling over. Lewis was charged with unlawful possession and discharge of a firearm, but he wasn’t charged with treason or attempted murder; police told reporters he shot at a nearby road. He was sentenced to three years behind bars, and according to , he spent some of that time plotting to kill Prince Charles. After he was released, authorities kept a close watch on his activity during major events.

The New Zealand authorities had been accused of covering up the assassination attempt in order to smooth things over during the royal visit. Now, a spokeswoman told Reuters that the police commissioner has ordered the case files to be reexamined. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson declined to comment.

More than 10 years after the assassination attempt, Lewis was charged with the murder of a mother in Auckland and the abduction of her baby daughter. He electrocuted himself in prison in 1997 before his murder trial began. A suicide note denied the charges against him.

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