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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - Assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, 2nd March 1882, Roderick Edward Maclean

Updated: Mar 4

In the afternoon of the 2nd March 1882, Queen Victoria left Windsor Royal Station and headed towards Windsor Castle. As the Queen was transitioning from her train to her carriage a shot rang out, the Queen mistakenly thought the noise was an explosion from a train engine. 28 year old Roderick Maclean shot his revolver at the Queen's carriage, fortunately the bullet missed and no one was harmed. When officers arrived they found that two Eton boys, named Wilson and Robinson, had been responsible for taking hold of the assassin and beating him with their umbrellas until help arrived and he could be arrested

Roderick Maclean pproaching Queen Victoria’s carriage, Source: Public Domain

Maclean claimed that he commited the crime because he was starving. He insisted that he never intended to harm the Queen. Rather he stated that he only wanted to “alarm the public.” He also noted that the reason he attempted the assassination of her majesty was because his grievances had not been respected, “such as the pecuniary straits in which I have been situated.

When Maclean was sent to trial it soon became apparent that he wasn’t of sound mind. He was obsessed with the colour blue, believing anyone that wore it was deliberately trying to aggravate him. It was believed that his reason for wanting to assassinate the Queen was due to her lack of respect for the poetry that he had sent her. However, it’s likely that the queen never saw his poems and that the responses he had received were written by members of her court. Within minutes of his trial starting, Maclean was declared insane and was sent to an asylum, where he remained until his death 1921.

Maclean attempting to assassinate Queen Victoria, 2nd March 1882 Source:

Queen Victoria records the event in her journal -

"A bright, but windy & fresh morning. — Walked with Beatrice in the Garden, & looked at the trees which are being planted, & which I am sure will do very well. — Resting, & writing. — Saw Sir Wm Jenner & Sir H. Ponsonby. — Louise came to luncheon, & said the poor Duchess, was a little better. — Then saw, Miss Mackworth, who is Pss Waldeck's great friend & who has been intimate with her, almost from her childhood. She praised Helen very much. Miss Mackworth seems a most sensible & clever person. — Took leave of Pce Waldeck, & a little later of Helen, whom Leopold brought. — At 4.30. left Buckingham Palace for Windsor. Just as we were driving off from the station there, the people or rather, the Eton Boys cheered, & at the same time there was the sound, of what I thought, was an explosion from the engine, but in another moment, I saw people rushing about, & a man being violently hustled, people rushing down the street. I then realised that it was a short, which must have been meant for me, though I was not sure, & Beatrice said nothing, the Duchess, who was also in the carriage, thinking it was a joke.

No one gave me a sign to lead me to believe, anything amiss had happened, Brownhowever, when he opened the carriage, said, with a greatly perturbed face, though quite calm: "that man fired at Yr Majesty's carriage". Sir J. Mc Neill, jumped out of the 2nd carriage in a great state, hoping we were not touched, & saying the man had been caught. When we got upstairs, Horatia S. rushed up, to ask if we were not hurt. I pacified them, & went to Arthur & Louischen & told them what had happened. Arthur suspected something, as he saw everyone running. Sir H. Ponsonby & LdBridport had followed the man to the Police station, where he was to be examined. — Took tea with Beatrice, & telegraphed to all my Children & near relations. Brown came in to say, that the revolver had been found loaded, & one chamber discharged. Superintendent Hayes of the Police here, seized the man, who was wretchedly dressed, & had a very bad countenance. Sir H. Ponsonby came in to tell me more. The man will be examined tomorrow. He is well spoken, & evidently an educated man. Then came Ld Bridport, who repeated the same thing, saying that the man's intensions seemed very clear. An Eton Boy had rushed up, & beaten him with an umbrella. Great excitement prevails. Nothing can exceed dearest Beatrice's courage & calmness, for she saw the whole thing, the man take aim, & fire straight into the carriage, but she never said a word, observing that I was not frightened.

Telegrams began arriving in numbers, in answer to mine, & one or two sent before, to enquire, if the report, which spread instantly to London & all over the world, was true. Was really not shaken or frightened, so different to O'Connor's attempt, though was infinitely more dangerous. That time I was terribly alarmed. — Went over again to Louischen, who had been rolled about in her chair. — Arthur, the Dss of Roxburghe, Horatia S., Sir J. Mc Neill, & Ld Bridport dined."

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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