An intruder found his way into Windsor Castle on Christmas morning — but it wasn’t Santa.
At around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, a man carrying an “unspecified weapon” somehow managed to slip into the royal residence, where 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth was staying with her family for the holiday.
The break-in was one last bit of bad luck in one of the toughest years ever for the long-reigning royal.
This marks her first Christmas since the death of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years. He died at Windsor in April at age 99.
The 19-year-old suspect, who reportedly hails from Southampton, was arrested on the grounds and remains in custody, the Sun reported Saturday.
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, and Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, were also at the castle, about an hour’s drive outside London. Officers said the suspect did not access any buildings and that “security processes were triggered within moments” of him entering the grounds.
Police informed the Queen about the break-in, but have not released details about how or why the man entered the property.
Thames Valley Police Superintendent Rebecca Mears told the Sun that an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“The man has been arrested on suspicion of breach or trespass of a protected site and possession of an offensive weapon,” Mears said. “He remains in custody at this time. We can confirm security processes were triggered within moments of the man entering the grounds, and he did not enter any buildings.”
News of the intrusion came before the Queen’s annual televised Christmas message to the nation, which was more personal than usual this year. The address was recorded last week in the White Drawing Room at Windsor alongside a photo of Elizabeth and Philip marking their diamond wedding anniversary in 2007 at Broadlands, Hampshire, where the royal couple spent their honeymoon in 1947.
“Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones,” Elizabeth said. “This year, especially, I understand why. In the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work. His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation were all irrepressible. That mischievous, inquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.”
The couple first met in 1939 during a visit by George VI to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where Philip was an 18-year-old cadet. For then-Princess Elizabeth, just 13, it was reportedly love at first sight.
The Queen famously referred to 1992, the year Princess Diana published a tell-all memoir and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson announced their divorce, as her “annus horribilis.” But 2021 is probably a close second.
In March, Oprah Winfrey’s harrowing interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle — in which the couple made allegations of racism against the royal family — led to a reported rift between Harry and his father and brother.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, Queen Elizabeth was forced to sit alone during Prince Philip’s April 17 funeral inside Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel. The moment was captured in a photo that became a poignant symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This isn’t even the first time this year intruders have trespassed at Windsor: Days after the funeral, on April 26, police captured two interlopers — a 31-year-old man and his 29-year-old girlfriend — who had scaled the fences of Windsor’s Royal Lodge.
Six days earlier, a woman was arrested for wandering the grounds claiming to be Prince Andrew’s fiancée.
And Andrew, Elizabeth’s second youngest child, has continued to face questions about his relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein this year, as well as accusations he sexually assaulted Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s young associates.
The Duke of York, who is ninth in line for the throne, has denied the allegations.