Queen Elizabeth was target of assassination plot during 1981 New Zealand visit, documents reveal


Recently declassified intelligence documents revealed that a troubled 17-year-old boy attempted to murder Queen Elizabeth II while she was visiting the Commonwealth nation of New Zealand in 1981.

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While the queen was touring the city of Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island on Oct. 14, 1981, a mentally disturbed teenager named Christopher Lewis fired a single shot toward the her as she exited her motorcade at the Otago Museum, according to papers from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS). No one was harmed in the incident.

Lewis turned himself in to local police, who found a .22-caliber rifle and a used cartridge in the building where he had used the firearm. Official believed that the incident would damage the country’s chances of another royal visit, so they only sought firearms and robbery charges against the teen, the documents suggest.

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“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,” a 1981 memo from the intelligence service said.

“There is a worry, however, that in court the press may make the connections between the date of the offence and the Queen’s visit,” it added.

“Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen,” the intelligence memo reads. “However [he] did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Lewis informed officials that he was a member of a right-wing militia group known as the National Imperial Guerilla Army, although police soon concluded the organization only had three members, which included a higher-ranked figure called the Polar Bear and another called The Snowman, who reportedly issued an order to “terrorize Dunedin.”

>> Related: Queen Elizabeth surrounded by fashion royalty at her first London runway show

Lewis eventually ended up in jail after he was convicted of a string of offenses. He committed suicide in his cell in 1997, authorities said.

The details have prompted a fresh police investigation into the alleged “cover up.”


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