British army probes ‘fake priest’ breach near Queen Elizabeth’s residence

A man posing as a friend of the battalion chaplain ate, drank and chatted with the guards in charge of security at Windsor Castle

Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.Getty Images

An intruder in the guise of a priest managed to hoodwink Queen Elizabeth’s security corps and spend the night just a stone’s throw from the monarch’s main residence, Windsor Castle.

British intelligence services, the Ministry of Defense and the British Army are now looking into how security was so easily breached on the eve of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next month.

Although the man, said to suffer from mental health issues, posed no threat to Her Majesty – she had not yet returned from her 96th birthday celebrations at Sandringham – the Ministry of Defense has launched an urgent investigation into the matter.

The incident took place on April 26, when the imposter posed as Father Cruise, a friend of Reverend Matt Coles, the military chaplain at Victoria Barracks, home to the Coldstream Guards who protect the monarch and her family at Windsor Castle and who deal with royal security on big state occasions, such as Prince William and Prince Harry’s weddings and the upcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Without being asked for identification, the intruder was ushered into the mess for dinner and drinks with the senior officers on duty, then offered a bed for the night. “Within a couple of hours, he was drinking with the officers in the bar and telling them stories of how he had served in Iraq,” a source told TalkTV. “He was telling lots of tall stories and the lads were enjoying his banter and having a few drinks. It was only later when he started talking about how he had worked as an ejector-seat test pilot and had some organs replaced that the chaps started to get suspicious.”

At 9.20am the following morning, the officers reported the imposter to Thames Valley Police and, at 10.20 am, he was escorted off the premises, just hours ahead of the queen’s return.

A spokesperson for the British Army has since told People magazine that “the Army takes this breach of security extremely seriously and it will be thoroughly investigated as a matter of priority. This incident is now part of an ongoing investigation and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Just last Christmas, an intruder armed with a crossbow sneaked into the grounds of Windsor Castle as the queen and her family were celebrating the holidays. Security forces quickly caught up with him and Thames Valley Police released a statement, saying, “We can confirm security processes were triggered within moments of the man entering the grounds and he did not enter any buildings.”

Other attempts to get up close to the royal family include that of a man armed with a knife trying to get into Buckingham Palace in London in October 2013; another, disguised as Osama Bin Laden, trying to gate crash Prince William’s 21st birthday party; and, most famously, Michael Fagan creeping into Buckingham Palace and getting as far as the queen’s bedroom where it was said he spent 10 minutes chatting with the queen. In fact, when the acquitted Fagan was interviewed by The Independent on Sunday, he refuted this, saying, “Nah! She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor.”

Fagan found fame twice over as his antics were woven into the storyline of the Netflix series The Crown.

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