Today in London’s rebel history: Marcus Sarjeant fires blanks at queen, The Mall, 1981.

On June 11th several million toadies celebrated the 90th birthday of the British queen, Elizabeth II. Not that June 11th is her real birthday, it’s her official birthday. Like just about everything else the greedy bitch has more birthdays than us plebs. (Although we could change that quickly enough – how about we all grant ourselves a second birthday a year? Why stop at two only?) But it could all have ended almost exactly 35 years earlier… If Marcus Sarjeant had been a slightly better shot (and put real ammo in his gun, duh.) On June 13th 1981, seventeen year old Marcus Simon Sarjeant fired six blank shots at Queen Elizabeth II as she rode down The Mall to the Trooping the Colour ceremony. Sarjeant’s motives are far from clear… A former boy Scouts, member of Air Training Corps and drop out from the Royal Marines and Army training, it’s unclear whether he was purely seeking notoriety, or held anti-monarchist views. Unemployed after failed applications to join the police, friends reported that in October 1980 Sarjeant had joined an anti royalist group. He tried unsuccessfully to find ammunition for his father’s .455 Webley revolver, and to get a gun licence of his own, he joined a local gun club. Through mail order he paid £66.90 for two blank-firing replica Python revolvers. In the run-up to the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony, Sarjeant sent letters to two magazines, one of which included a picture of him with his father’s gun. He also sent a letter to Buckingham Palace which read “Your Majesty. Don’t go to the Trooping the Colour ceremony because there is an assassin set up to kill you, waiting just outside the palace”. The letter arrived on 16 June. On 13 June 1981, Sarjeant joined the crowds for Trooping the Colour, finding a spot near the junction between The Mall and Horseguards Avenue. When the Queen came past riding her 19-year-old horse Burmese, Sarjeant quickly fired six blanks from his starting revolver. The horse was momentarily startled but unfortunately the Queen brought her under control; and was unharmed. Sarjeant, who told soldiers who subdued him, “I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a somebody”, and under police questioning said he had been inspired by the assassination of John Lennon in December 1980, and the attempts on the life of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The police found that Sarjeant had written “I am going to stun and mystify the world. I will become the most famous teenager in the world.” Psychiatrists concluded that Sarjeant “did not have any abnormalities within the Mental Health Act”. Sarjeant became the first person since 1966 to be prosecuted under the Treason Act 1842, and was tried in September 1981. Pleading guilty, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Sarjeant lost his appeal against the length of the sentence. After three years in jail which were mostly spent at Grendon Psychiatric Prison, Sarjeant was released in October 1984, aged of 20, changed his name and began a new life. Mad? Bad? In the relentless insanity of the current social system, denying virtually all of us power over our own lives, while feeding us a diet of aspirational pap, and parading a carnival of inane celebrity to obsess and slaver over… ? Going nuts and wanting to do someone serious violence is understandable. It’s possible Sarjeant was a deranged saddo… maybe he was a more conscious rebel. Possibly he intended to miss (and writing to let them know you’re intending to shoot them isn’t generally recommended in the Assassin’s Handbook). There’s a lot of it about. But better to knock off the wealthiest woman in the world than shoot up your neighbourhood, or take it out in violence against women generally – or in racist attacks – or daft nationalist shite like football hooliganism – or in gaybashing… Yes we know it’s no substitute for collective action from below blah blah. We still wouldn’t have mourned the removal of this gilded figurehead. NB: In a parallel universe, Sarjeant succeeded @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out online


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