Why a Brit tried to assassinate Queen Elizabeth

BBritish national Jaswant Singh Chail pleaded guilty on Friday to treason for his 2021 attempted murder of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Chail was captured on the grounds of Windsor Castle on Christmas Day armed with a crossbow. He told authorities he was there to kill the Queen and said it was revenge for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in British India in a Snapchat video he posted just before entering the castle.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry for what I’ve done and what I’m going to do. I will attempt to assassinate Elizabeth, queen of the royal family. Chail said.

The Hampshire, England resident will appear in court on March 31 as the first person in the UK to be convicted of treason in more than 40 years. He pleaded guilty to possessing a deadly weapon and threatening to murder the Queen. Chail is currently being treated in a high security psychiatric hospital.

What happened?

This court artist’s sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, from Southampton, on the dock at the Old Bailey in London during a court hearing, Friday February 3, 2023.

Elizabeth Cook–PA/AP

One day of the break-in, Chail scaled the castle with a rope ladder and wandered the grounds for about two hours before a royal officer found him near the queen’s quarters. At around 8:10 a.m., the officer threw a taser at Chail and asked, “Hello, can I help, mate?” Chail replied, “I’m here to kill the queen.”

The officer ordered Chail to drop his weapon, which later turned out to be a loaded crossbow. The officer also demanded that Chail get on all fours, which the intruder complied with.

Chail carried a note that read, “Please don’t remove my clothes, shoes and gloves, masks, etc. I don’t want an autopsy, I don’t want embalming, thank you and I’m sorry.” Chail is said to have asked to join the Ministry of Defense police to be closer to the royal family, before this attempt.

Suspect angry over Jallianwala Bagh massacre

“This is revenge for those who died in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919,” Chail said on Snapchat. “It is also revenge for those who have been killed, humiliated and discriminated against because of their race.”

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on April 13, 1919, when British troops opened fire on 10,000 unarmed protesters in the Indian city of Amritsar, killing an estimated 379 people and injuring 1,200. At the time, civil unrest and discontent were growing across India, particularly in Punjab, as British authorities refused to reverse repressive wartime policies that limited India’s political autonomy.

In Amritsar, news spread on April 10, 1919, that several prominent Indian leaders had been arrested, sparking violent protests which were met with armed soldiers. British authorities have banned public gatherings, such as the group of thousands gathered in the garden of Jallianwala Bagh on the afternoon of April 13, some to protest and others to celebrate the Sikh Spring Festival of Baisakhi.

The garden was surrounded by high walls and had only one exit, locking people in as troops reportedly fired hundreds of rounds. The massacre went on to define modern Indian history, sparking greater support for Indian nationalism and independence from Britain.

Few convictions for treason

Under Britain’s Treason Act 1842, it is illegal to commit or attempt assault, to threaten the Queen with a weapon, and to endanger the peace. Chail faces up to seven years in prison under the law. The last time anyone was convicted of treason was in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years for shooting the Queen blank during a parade in London.

The old Treason Act of 1351 was more extreme in that all assaults against a monarch were punishable by death. The last time anyone was convicted under the more serious Act 1351 was in 1946, when William Joyce was hanged for spreading Nazi propaganda.

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