The man who allegedly broke into Windsor Castle armed with a crossbow on Christmas Day has been charged under a Victorian treason law, which was last used there over 40 years old and has a fascinating history.
Prosecutions are very rare under the Treason Act 1842, which makes it an offense to assault the Queen or to have an offensive firearm or weapon in her presence with intent to injure or harm her. to alarm or disturb the peace.
The law was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant was jailed for five years under Section Two after shooting the Queen blank as she walked down The Mall in London during the Trooping the Color parade .
Sarjeant, who was 17 at the time, was tackled by a soldier and police before being arrested and charged – and although the Queen had to control her Burmese horse during the attack, she went ahead with the ceremony.
The last person to be convicted under the separate and more serious Treason Act 1351 was William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw, a fascist partisan who collaborated with Germany during the Second World War.
Joyce was captured by the British Army near the end of the war in May 1945 and hanged at Wandsworth Prison in south London in January 1946, also making him the last person in Britain to be executed for treason.
The Treason Act 1842 was last used in 1981, when Marcus Sarjeant (left and right, arrested) was jailed for five years after shooting the Queen blanks as she walked down the Mall in London during the Trooping the Color fashion show.
Queen Elizabeth II comforts her horse Burmese after Sarjeant fired six blank shots during Trooping the Color in 1981
Sarjeant, 17, was attacked by a soldier and police before being arrested and charged in the 1981 incident.
Detective Inspector Ian Blair holds the fake gun used by Marcus Sarjeant, from which he shot the Queen blanks
The Treason Act was introduced by Queen Victoria after two men shot her in 1842. John Francis aimed at Victoria but did not fire as she rode through the Mall in a carriage.
The monarch emerged the next day to bait his would-be killer, who this time fired a shot before being arrested by plainclothes police.
Shortly after, John William Bean fired a pistol at Victoria, but it had only been loaded with paper and tobacco.
Prince Albert felt the death penalty was too harsh for clumsy shooters, so encouraged Parliament to pass legislation corresponding to less serious crimes against the monarch – such as intent to alarm or injure – and a new, less serious offense was created.
It is extremely rare for charges to be brought under the 1842 Act.
But Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, from Southampton, was charged after he was accused of climbing the castle wall to hurt or alarm the Queen by brandishing the weapon.
The Queen had stayed at Windsor Castle for Christmas last year rather than spending the festive period at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk as usual.
William Joyce, also known as Lord Haw-Haw, was the last person to be convicted under the Treason Act 1351.
Lord Haw-Haw (right, with his wife Margaret) was a fascist partisan who collaborated with Germany during World War II
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 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 was broadcast to her that day in the monarch’s moving address to the nation on Christmas Day.
Scotland Yard said Chail had been charged with an offense under section two of the Treason Act 1842.
It is to “discharge or aim firearms, or throw or use any offensive material or weapon, with intent to injure or alarm Her Majesty”.
The Crown Prosecution Service added that he had been charged with “being close to the person of the Queen, to willfully produce a loaded crossbow with the intention of using it to injure the person of Her Majesty”.
Chail was also charged with threatening to kill under section 16 of the Offenses against the Person Act 1861 and possession of an offensive weapon under section 1 of the Prevention Act 1953 of the crime.
Jaswant Singh Chail (pictured), from Southampton, was charged with an offense under section two of the Treason Act 1842
Armed police stand guard outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire on December 27, two days after the alleged incident
King Henry VIII’s Gate at Windsor Castle in Berkshire is pictured guarded by armed police in January this year
The Queen, who was in residence at Buckingham Palace, is pictured delivering her annual speech on Christmas Day last year
The incident allegedly involving Chail also brought back memories of a break-in at Buckingham Palace in 1982.
On the occasion, 31-year-old painter and decorator Michael Fagan entered the Queen’s private chambers at Buckingham Palace as she lay in bed before police apprehended him – but he did not not been charged for the incident.
Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said last night: ‘The CPS have authorized the Metropolitan Police to charge Jaswat Singh Chail with offenses following his arrest at the compound of Windsor Castle on December 25, 2021 carrying a crossbow.
“This decision was made following an investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
“Mr Chail, 20, was charged with death threats, possession of an offensive weapon and an offense under the Treason Act 1842.”
Chail is in police custody and will appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on August 17.