Top 10 Surprising Facts About Queen Victoria

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She Survived Eight Assassination Attempts

From 1840 to 1882, eight attempts were made to assassinate Queen Victoria. She survived them all.

The first attempt to take her life occurred on June 10, 1840, when 18-year-old Edward Oxford, a bartender, twice fired his dueling pistol at the queen, who was four months pregnant with her first child. She and her husband were seated in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace. Tackled and arrested, Oxford was found guilty but insane. He spent 24 years in an asylum, ending his days in Australia after being deported from England.

John Francis made two attempts on the life of Victoria. He first tried to assassinate the queen on May 29, 1842. Riding in an open carriage, she and her husband were on their way home from a church service when Francis pointed his flintlock pistol at Victoria. But his weapon failed to discharge. Jamming his pistol beneath his coat, he vanished into Green Park.

The next day, Francis made his second attempt to kill the queen as the royal couple repeated their journey by carriage. They had hoped the would-be assassin would give himself away by attempting to shoot the queen again. When he did, Francis was captured and sentenced to be hanged and quartered (his body cut into four pieces after decapitation). But Victoria commuted his sentence to lifelong banishment.

John William Bean, a 17-year-old man with a serious spinal deformity, also tried to assassinate Victoria. He used the same strategy as Francis had. Similarly, Bean’s weapon failed to fire. He said that his gun was more full of tobacco than gunpowder. That night, July 3, 1842, he was arrested at his family’s home and later sentenced to 18 months of hard labor.

Twenty-four-year-old unemployed bricklayer William Hamilton’s chance to assassinate the queen occurred on June 19, 1849. Her birthday was being officially commemorated, and she and her three children rode in a carriagethrough Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. As they returned to Buckingham Palace, Hamilton fired his pistol. But he neither killed nor injured anyone. As a result of his act, he was banished to the prison colony of Gibraltar for seven years.

On June 27, 1850, after visiting her dying uncle with her three children, Victoria was attacked when her carriage stopped outside the gate of Cambridge House. Eccentric British army officer Robert Pate struck her in the forehead with his cane, causing a massive bruise and a black eye. He was sent to the penal colony in Tasmania for seven years.The next attempt occurred when Victoria was returning home from an outing on February 29, 1872. Seventeen-year-old Arthur O’Connor, a descendant of Irish revolutionaries who’d sneaked onto the grounds after climbing the fence surrounding Buckingham Palace, raced to the side of Victoria’s carriage. He pointed a gun at the monarch from 0.3 meters (1 ft) away. John Brown, the queen’s personal servant, tackled the would-be assassin. O’Connor received 20 strokes of a birch rod, was imprisoned for a year, and was exiled to Australia.

Having taken a train from London to Windsor on March 2, 1882, Victoria was departing from the station in her carriage when she heard a noise that sounded like an engine explosion. Then she saw a man being forced down the street amid a rush of people. In reality, the noise heard by the queen was the sound of a gunshot fired by an emotionally disturbed would-be assassin, 28-year-old Roderick Maclean. Police rescued Maclean from Eton students who were beating him with their umbrellas. At his trial, he was found guilty but insane and remained in an asylum until his death.

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