Evening, the leafy gardens of Buckingham Place. Two police officers patrolling the grounds spot a male suspect they do not recognize. They act promptly.
What happened next? Either they held the suspect at gunpoint and demanded he lie flat on the ground, as reported in the Daily Express – BUCKINGHAM PALACE TERROR! – or they requested that he identify himself.
At which moment the suspect pointed out that he himself was Prince Andrew. Ahem? His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killyleagh, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty? Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, that is, have you heard of her? My mum? WHOSE BACKYARD THIS IS?
(Those titles are fun to read aloud in tones of rising fury.)
Also, he was born there.
The Express said a “royal insider” told them “From what we’ve all heard the Duke was absolutely livid and tore them off a strip.” The amusing failure to communicate was quickly straightened out.
The Express also said “For a tense half a minute the Queen’s 53-year-old son was in danger of being shot dead by officers paid to protect him and his family.”
The police subsequently issued a statement saying, “… at approximately 1800hrs two uniformed officers approached a man in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to verify his identity.
“The man was satisfactorily identified. No weapons were drawn and no force was used.
“In light of media reports we can confirm that the man spoken to by officers was the Duke of York. We are making this public with HRH’s permission. We are grateful to the Duke for his understanding and have apologised for any inconvenience caused.”
No weapons were drawn? What fun is that?
Alas, I couldn’t find the text of the apology. It satisfied Andrew, who said, “The police have a difficult job to do balancing security for the Royal Family and deterring intruders, and sometimes they get it wrong. I am grateful for their apology and look forward to a safe walk in the garden in the future.”
Keep in mind that the police were under particular pressure to be vigilant, since the previous week some random citizen had sneaked into the Palace, and gotten as far as the state rooms before being noticed.
The officers probably didn’t have a cheat sheet showing the royal family. The royals all look a lot alike anyway, right? Man, woman, child, corgi, all blend together in one bland tasteful mass. (Did you think I was going to say “chinless” mass? No. I rise above the cliché. Besides, what would a corgi do with a chin?)
Let’s hope the police are taking steps to generate that cheat sheet or otherwise train their officers to distinguish the royal family from stalkers of royals.
It’s true, sometimes the police get it wrong and apologies are in order. Sometimes the press gets it wrong. AND APOLOGIES ARE IN ORDER.
EVEN IF YOU ARE A TABLOID.
As a member of the press I feel strongly about this. The police have apologized for not recognizing Prince Andrew, but the Express hasn’t apologized for saying he was held at gunpoint.
Unless, of course, SorryWatch is getting this wrong.