A former police officer revealed the Queen was almost killed by a 17-year-old gunman in an assassination attempt which was ‘covered up to avoid jeopardising future royal tours’.
Christopher John Lewis was only 17 when he aimed a rifle at the Queen on Wednesday October 14, 1981, Stuff reports.
At the time, Her Majesty was on a royal visit to New Zealand.
As the Queen stepped out of a Rolls Royce, with police security in the area of the Otago Museum Reserve, a loud crack ‘echoed,’ reports say.
The .22 rifle shot at the Queen luckily missed and Lewis, from Dunedin, in the South Island, New Zealand, was caught.
Lewis pleaded guilty to the shooting at the Dunedin District Court – along with a dozen other charges.
However, he narrowly avoided a treason charge, which a former Dunedin detective believed was a cover up attempt by the government.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald in 1997, Tom Lewis – who was not related to Christopher – said it was probably hushed up amid fears the shot would jeopardise future royal tours.
Lewis was sentenced to three years in prison including 12 months in a psychiatric hospital and police alleged that in this final year he had also plotted to assassinate Prince Charles.
Christopher Lewis claimed he’d never meant to assassinate the Queen.
He said in his memoirs that he had just wanted to scare her into seeing problems he thought were prevalent in New Zealand.
According to the NZ Herald, he said: “I felt that giving her a scare somehow, that the issues and problems that were evident in New Zealand might be finally brought into the public attention and as a bonus if the Queen would look at these issues – she might well take notice.”
Along with some friends, Lewis had formed a group to challenge those in power.
They aimed to raise public attention – and when petty crimes didn’t work they came up with the idea to shoot the Queen, reports said.
Lewis was jailed for three years, spending the last year at a psychiatric hospital.
While he was in hospital he allegedly put a knife to a guard’s throat but was disarmed.
He also developed a plot to shoot Prince Charles while inside, police said.
When he got out, he continued down the criminal path, committing a string of burglaries.
And in 1995 Lewis was secretly exiled to Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf as authorities feared for the Queen during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Auckland, according to reports.
By September 23, 1997, Lewis was found dead in prison.
Following his death, his mum told the Herald he had an “untreatable” mental disorder, saying her son was “psychologically disturbed”.
But she said doctors had failed to diagnose him with a disorder.
His mum said she would always love him.
Lewis had had a turbulent childhood full of juvenile crime – including a break in to a gun shop where he stole a number of weapons when he was 17.
He and friends had also raided a post office and stole money while holding workers there at gunpoint.
In 1981 Lewis had pleaded guilty to 19 charges which included burglary, aggravated burglary and arson.