23 JUNE 2003
Prince William welcomed 300 guests and one bearded gatecrasher to his 21st birthday bash at Windsor Castle on Saturday. Wills was giving a thank-you speech when the uninvited partygoer, dressed in a dress, turban and fake beard, seized the microphone and began ranting at the revellers.

A major review of royal security has been ordered after the incident, in which self-styled alternative comedian Aaron Barschak managed to slip past police and gain entry to the year's most exclusive party.

He was quickly bundled away by royal protection officers, and quick-witted Wills laughed off the intrusion, saying: "I didn't know my brother could do an accent like that."

But the Queen is said to have been very upset that security was breached at the celebration, which was attended by almost every senior member of the Royal Family. Prince Charles was also deeply concerned and Home Secretary David Blunkett has demanded an investigation.

The fact that the intruder described himself as a "comedy terrorist" only served to emphasise Her Majesty's concerns. The 36-year-old comic apparently meant no harm, and was simply seeking publicity as he wants to become a serious actor, but the question of how he managed to get so close to the future Kings will have to be answered.

Apparently he had been spotted earlier in the day near the private entrance to the castle, but police ordered him to move on. He then approached a works entrance, and managed to talk his way past the officer who was standing guard.

"Someone loosely connected to the castle helped him to get in," said a source at Scotland Yard. "He talked to the royalty protection officer and persuaded him that Barschak should be allowed in. It may seem hard to believe but the security system was let down by one of our own people who didn't do their job properly."

The Out Of Africa-themed celebration soon got back into full swing, however, and many guests stayed until dawn. Barschak, meanwhile, has been released on bail and the police officer who granted him entry may face disciplinary action.


William rehearsing with a group of percussionists before the revelry got underway
Photo: PA

Aaron Barshack strutting around in front of the assembled press before gatecrashing the party
Photo: PA

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