1882: Assassination attempt on British monarch fails

Peyton Powell
Staff Writer

Crowns, thrones, and jewels, oh my. This is what many people think of when they hear about the British monarchy. They however don’t usually think of the term assassination. For one monarch in particular, they had seven assassination attempts, and, 135 years ago to this very date, they encountered their very last one.

At 4 o’clock on the afternoon of March 2nd, Queen Victoria and her daughter Princess Beatrice left Buckingham Palace to go and board a train headed for Windsor. People gathered along the Queen’s route even though there had been a storm that had produced hail go through the area. When the Queen arrived at the station to board her special train, hundreds of spectators cheered and waved as she left the station. After a rather short journey, the Queen and her daughter arrived in Windsor.

Queen victoria
Queen Victoria survived several assassination attempts (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

Once Queen Victoria was seated in her awaiting carriage, a man fired one shot with a revolver, towards the carriage attempting to kill her majesty. After the shot was fired, two schoolboys from Eton attacked the shooter with their umbrellas, and Queen Victoria’s carriage hastily departed the scene. The two boys who attacked the shooter then had to be told to “bade and desist,” by Inspector Fraser of the Royal Household Police. The shooter was then taken into custody by three police officers.

Roderick Maclean was the one who fired the failed shot at her majesty that very day in the station yard. There was not a lot known about Mr. Maclean because every story he told and other people’s stories never seemed to add up. What authorities did know was that he was a 30-year-old unemployed store clerk who also wrote poetry. The reason why he was upset was thought to bebecause he sent many poems to Queen Victoria, only to get them sent back unopened. Police found a letter inside Maclean’s pockets that had some disturbing words like “These bloated aristocrats ruled by the old lady, Mrs. Vic., who is a licensed robber in all senses.” Maclean was tried and found to be not guilty, but insane, which then sent him to an asylum to spend the rest of his days.

A few days after the shooting took place, Queen Victoria invited the two Eton boys who attacked the shooter, and over 900 Etonians to come to the castle for numerous ceremonies.

Queen Victoria lived another 19, before falling ill, and dying at the age of 81 on January 22nd, 1901. She reigned for 64 years, and held the record for the longest reign of an English Monarch until her great great granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her in the year 2015. Queen Victoria was very loved by the public, and today is considered one of the greatest Monarchs in English History. “God Save The Queen.”