A 33-year-old British man charged with breaking into the grounds of Buckingham Palace on two occasions in December 2021 echoes historic security breaches at the monarch’s London home dating back to the reign of Queen Victoria.
Daniel Brydges is alleged to have trespassed on palace grounds on two separate occasions on December 18 and December 22, 2021, reports the BBC. He is also alleged to have damaged a barbed wire fence which surrounds the palace perimeter.
The queen was not in residence at the time of the break-ins, having moved to Windsor Castle where she has been living since the U.K. outbreak of coronavirus.
Brydges pleaded not guilty in a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on July 13, though did not present any motive for his actions.
His legal representative Rajesh Bhamm told the court, per the BBC, that his client has a “quite serious mental health background” and would be commissioning an independent psychiatric assessment.
The presiding judge released Brydges on bail with the condition that he not visit any royal residence ahead of the next hearing which is scheduled for October 12.
This act of trespassing on the queen’s most famous London residence is the latest in a long line of similar break-ins dating back to the earliest years of Queen Victoria’s reign, who was the first monarch to take up residence at the palace.
The Boy Jones
One of the earliest cases of a break-in at Buckingham Palace has gone down in history after the story of a young boy who was found hiding in Queen Victoria’s private apartments captured the imagination of the nation at the time.
Edward Jones was a teenage tailor’s apprentice and was caught trespassing inside Buckingham Palace while Victoria was in residence on three occasions from 1838 to 1841, though he is believed to have been inside the palace on many more occasions.
Dr. Jan Bondeson, author of Queen Victoria’s Stalker: The Strange Story of the Boy Jones, told the BBC: “Edward Jones was a very weird character and apart from Queen Victoria, he was never interested in women. He was a very solitary character but he was not schizophrenic or classed as mad, just odd.
“He gained access to the palace through unlocked doors or unshuttered windows on the ground floors—there was no royal security in those days.
“He took the queen’s underwear the first time, and the third time he stole food from the kitchen and twice he was caught sitting on the throne.”
After being found in a room close to Victoria, who had just given birth to her first child, Jones was sentenced to three months in prison but his continued stalking of the queen saw the British government eventually transport him to Australia.
Victoria is not the only queen to have had an intruder make it into her private apartments at Buckingham Palace.
In 1980, Michael Fagan, a painter and decorator, broke into the residence on two separate occasions. During his second visit he famously found the queen’s bedroom where he had a short interaction with the monarch before being detained.
This exchange between monarch and subject was dramatized in Season 4 of Netflix‘s The Crown, though the real event was much shorter than portrayed.
Fagan’s break-in saw security measures around members of the royal family and their homes increased, though this has not stopped isolated incidents of trespassing over the subsequent years.
Fathers 4 Justice
On September 13, 2004, 33-year-old Jason Hatch scaled a wall at Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman and stood on a high ledge next to the famous royal balcony.
Hatch’s motive for his trespassing was to raise awareness for U.K. fathers’ rights organization Fathers 4 Justice which campaigned for greater rights for fathers with equal parenting measures and a right to equal contact to children for divorced parents. The group staged a number of stunt protests which included members dressing as Santa Claus.
After a number of hours, police talked Hatch down from the palace ledge and charges against him were later dropped, though, again, holes in security caused embarrassment for the palace.
A second protest by group members was staged in 2018 when two men scaled the roof of the queen’s art gallery and were detained by police.
American Student Caught in Toilets
In December 2021, American student Joseph Huang Kang was found to have broken into the royal mews at Buckingham Palace which houses the monarch’s working carriage horses as well as many valuable state coaches.
Kang, per the Daily Mail, was located in the toilets of the royal mews having flown to London on December 1 from Texas after experiencing a period of poor mental health.
Appearing in court in February 2022, Kang was fined £200 for trespassing on a protected site and told he was free to travel home to the United States.