Women Who Ruled: Queen Victoria, part 8

The fifth mean to attempt to harm Queen Victoria was the first to cause damage. While the first four men used pistols, Robert Pate simply ran up to her carriage as it entered the gates at Buckingham Palace in 1850, and cracked her on the head with a small black cane. Victoria was accompanied by three of her children and a lady in waiting. 

A mob of royal supporters surrounded Pate and might have killed him had Sergeant Silver of the Vine Street Police not appeared as quickly as he did. Pate was arrested. He confessed to the crime, but not tyo any motive or premeditation. Multiple doctors conducted extensive interviews and examinations to determine his mental state. 

In the end they concluded that he was not of sound mind, but that he knew right from wrong all the same. Robert Pate stood trial at the Old Bailey in 1850. He was found guilty of assaulting the queen with the intent to injure her and sentenced to seven years in a penal colony, same as the would-be assassin before him. 

It would be another 22 years until another assassination attempt was made. On Leap Day of 1872, an Irish boy of 17 ran after the Queen’s carriage as it entered the gates. He pulled out an antique pistol and pointed it at the queen. She ducked and he was immediately seized by palace guards. Arthur O’Connor pled guilty to “unlawfully presenting a pistol to Our Lady the Queen, with intent to alarm her.” 

His friends employed a man Hume Williams to have the plea revoked, in a bid for an insanity ruling. O’Connor’s parents and three doctors from King’s College were called on to testify, but the jury determined he had been sane at the time he pled guilty. O’Connor was sentenced to one year in prison and twenty lashes. 

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