Windsor Castle ‘intruder’: Who was the last person jailed under the 1842 Treason Act?

How ‘crossbow intruder’ at Windsor Castle is first man charged under the 1842 Treason Act in 41 years… but Nazi collaborator Lord Haw-Haw was the last person charged with graver 1351 Act that resulted in him being hanged

  • Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, who allegedly broke into Windsor with crossbow is charged under Treason Act 1842
  • Victorian-era law was last used in 1981 when Marcus Sarjeant, 17, fired blank shots at the Queen on The Mall
  • Last person convicted under the separate 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw
  • Treason Act 1842 was introduced by Queen Victoria after two men fired at her that year, but it is rarely used

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The man who allegedly broke into Windsor Castle armed with a crossbow on Christmas Day has been charged under a Victorian-era treason law, which was last used more than 40 years ago and has a fascinating history.

Prosecutions are very rare under the 1842 Treason Act, which makes it 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.

The Act was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years under section two after he fired blank shots at the Queen while she was riding down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Colour parade.

Sarjeant, who was 17 at the time, was tackled by a soldier and the police before being arrested and charged – and although the Queen had to control her horse Burmese during the attack, she continued with the ceremony. 

The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw, a fascist supporter who collaborated with Germany during the Second World War.

Joyce was captured by the British army towards the end of the war in May 1945 and hanged at Wandsworth Prison in South London in January 1946, which also makes him the last person in Britain to be executed for treason. 

Marcus Sarjeant

Marcus Sarjeant arrested

The 1842 Treason Act was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant (left; and right, being arrested) was jailed for five years after he fired blank shots at the Queen while she was riding down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Colour parade

The Queen Elizabeth II comforts her horse Burmese after Sarjeant fired six blank shots during Trooping the Colour in 1981

The Queen Elizabeth II comforts her horse Burmese after Sarjeant fired six blank shots during Trooping the Colour in 1981

Sarjeant, who was aged 17, was tackled by a soldier and the police before being arrested and charged in the 1981 incident

Sarjeant, who was aged 17, was tackled by a soldier and the police before being arrested and charged in the 1981 incident

Detective Inspector Ian Blair holds the imitation gun used by Marcus Sarjeant, from which he fired blank shots at the Queen

Detective Inspector Ian Blair holds the imitation gun used by Marcus Sarjeant, from which he fired blank shots at the Queen

The Treason Act was introduced by Queen Victoria after two men fired at her in 1842. John Francis aimed at Victoria but did not fire as she rode a carriage across The Mall.

The monarch went out again the following day to bait her would-be assassin, who this time did fire a shot before he was arrested by plainclothes policemen.

Shortly afterwards, John William Bean fired a pistol at Victoria, but it had been loaded only with paper and tobacco.

Prince Albert felt the death penalty was too harsh for the bungling shooters, so encouraged Parliament to pass a law fitting lesser crimes against the monarch – such as intending to alarm or wound – and a new, less serious offence, was created.

It is extremely rare for charges to be brought under the 1842 law. 

But Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, of Southampton, has been charged under it after being accused of scaling the castle wall to injure or alarm the Queen while brandishing the weapon.

The Queen had been staying at Windsor Castle for Christmas last year rather than spending the festive period at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk as usual.

The last person to be convicted under the more serious 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw

The last person to be convicted under the more serious 1351 Treason Act was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw

Lord Haw-Haw (right, with his wife Margaret) was a fascist supporter who collaborated with Germany during World War Two

Lord Haw-Haw (right, with his wife Margaret) was a fascist supporter who collaborated with Germany during World War Two

Joyce - pictured at a fascist meeting in Chiswick, West London -  was captured by the British army towards the end of the war

Joyce – pictured at a fascist meeting in Chiswick, West London –  was captured by the British army towards the end of the war

She was joined for lunch by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

It was her first Christmas without her late husband Prince Philip, and a tribute to him was broadcast that day in the monarch’s emotional Christmas Day address to the nation.

Scotland Yard said Chail had been charged with an offence under section two of the Treason Act 1842.

This is ‘discharging or aiming firearms, or throwing or using any offensive matter or weapon, with intent to injure or alarm her Majesty’. 

The Crown Prosecution Service added that he had been charged with ‘being near to the person of the Queen, wilfully producing a loaded crossbow with intent to use the same to injure the person of Her Majesty’.

Chail has also been charged with threats to kill under section 16 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and possession of an offensive weapon under section one of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.

Jaswant Singh Chail (pictured), of Southampton, has been charged with an offence under section two of the Treason Act 1842

Jaswant Singh Chail (pictured), of Southampton, has been charged with an offence under section two of the Treason Act 1842

Armed police officers on guard outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire on December 27, two days after the alleged incident

Armed police officers on guard outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire on December 27, two days after the alleged incident

The King Henry VIII gate at Windsor Castle in Berkshire is pictured being guarded by armed police in January this year

The King Henry VIII gate at Windsor Castle in Berkshire is pictured being guarded by armed police in January this year

The Queen, who was in residence at Buckingham Palace, is pictured delivering her annual Christmas Day speech last year

The Queen, who was in residence at Buckingham Palace, is pictured delivering her annual Christmas Day speech last year

The incident that allegedly involved Chail also brought back memories of an intrusion at Buckingham Palace in 1982.

On that occasion, 31-year-old painter and decorator Michael Fagan entered the Queen’s private chambers at Buckingham Palace while she was in bed before police apprehended him – but he was not charged over the incident.

Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service special crime and counter terrorism division, said last night: ‘The CPS has authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge Jaswat Singh Chail with offences after he was arrested in the grounds of Windsor Castle on 25 December 2021 carrying a crossbow.

‘This decision has been made following an investigation carried out by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.

‘Mr Chail, 20, has been charged with making threats to kill, possession of an offensive weapon, and an offence under the 1842 Treason Act.’

Chail is in custody and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on August 17.

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