Queen Elizabeth in 1981

Declassified papers reveal the Queen survived an assassination attempt in 1981

The would-be assassin went on to murder a woman over a decade later

Emmy Griffiths

New Zealand's intelligence agency has confirmed that a teenage boy tried to assassinate the Queen during a visit to Dunedin in October 1981. According to Reuters, documents have now been released that show Christopher Lewis, who was 17 at the time, shoot at Her Majesty as she left her vehicle while attending a science fair during an eight-day tour of the Commonwealth. A recently-declassified 1997 memo from the intelligence agency read: "Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen, however did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target."

The Queen in 1981, days after the assassination attempt

A second memo from 1981 hinted that the situation was being dealt with quietly, as it read: "Current police investigations into the shots have been conducted discreetly and most media representatives probably have the impression that the noise was caused by a firework of some description." Christopher, who was described as "severely disturbed", was not charged with attempted murder, but with unlawful possession and discharge of a firearm. Over a decade after the incident, Christopher was charged with the murder of a mother and the abduction of her baby daughter, before taking his own life while in prison awaiting trial.

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This isn't the first time the royal family have faced an assassination threat. In 1994, Prince Charles was visiting Sydney when a man fired two blank shots and stormed the stage as the royal was about to make a speech. After the man was arrested, the Prince continued with his address, making no mention of the incident. It eventually transpired that the man, David Kang, was protesting detention camps for Cambodian asylum seekers, and never intended to hurt the royal.

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