Women Who Ruled: Queen Victoria, part 7 

The third attempt on Queen Victoria’s life came only a month after the second, in 1842. Again she was in her carriage with Albert, riding home from the Royal Chapel at St. James’s Palace with their uncle King Leopold of Belgium. John Bean, a little person with a hunchback, fired a pistol at the queen. He’d loaded it with broken bits of a clay pipe and shreds of paper. 

Two boys from Eton Preparatory apprehended Bean and took him to the constabulary, where they were laughed at and he was released. When the police later learned their mistake, they rounded up every man roughly fitting Bean’s description in a two week manhunt. John Bean was sentenced to 18 months in prison, on the grounds the flaming paper from his shot could have ignited the Queen’s dress. Flame retardant clothing was not yet invented and crinolines were particularly flammable. 

Seven years later on May, 21, 1849 Queen Victoria was once again riding in her carriage on Constitution Hill, site of the first and second attempts. She was accompanied by Alice, Alfred, and Helena (her third, fourth, and fifth born) while King Consort Albert rode ahead, as part of a royal procession commemorating Victoria’s 30th birthday. 

William Hamilton was a destitute Irishman who thought jail was superior to life on the street, and the fourth would-be assassin. He fired a blank shot at the monarch. Queen Victoria remained calm, instructing her driver to carry on, and immediately distracted her young children from the excitement and arrest happening beside them. Hamilton was sentenced to seven years deportation for the High Misdemeanor of assaulting the queen. 

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