Who lives in Windsor castle?
Security breach: Royal protection has been stepped upfollowing the incident at Windsor Castle
Royal protection has been stepped up after armed police swooped on a tourist who breached the security cordon close to the Queen's private apartments at Windsor Castle.
The intruder, a visitor from Japan, set off a major alert when he entered an unlocked door in a restricted area at the Royal residence.
The incident came at a time when the official terror alert is set at severe, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’.
Startled castle wardens raised the alarm after spotting the tourist, who is believed to have been taking photographs in the high-security zone.
Officers found him in an area used by servants and staff beneath the grand State Apartments, close to the Grand Staircase leading to St George’s Hall – the setting for State banquets – and eventually to the private apartments where Her Majesty spends most weekends.
The hapless tourist was held and questioned by police for a short period but was released after officers were satisfied that he did not pose a security threat.
The Queen was not at Windsor at the time, on February 12, but the major security gaffe has led to extra ‘pat-downs’ for thousands of visitors.
It is thought the man had inadvertently gained access to the off-limits area via an internal door that had accidentally been left unlocked near the popular Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House attraction.
To get to this point in the tour, the visitor would have climbed Castle Hill after passing through security at the castle entrance, then skirted the Round Tower above St George’s Chapel, before accessing those parts of the Royal Apartments open to the public.
A Palace source said the incident has led to closer scrutiny of visitors to the castle, with additional checks and measures now in place to prevent similar slip-ups.
A Royal spokesman said: ‘While completing the public visitor route within Windsor Castle, a visitor was able to gain inadvertent access to an administrative area which is not routinely open to the public.
The intruder, a visitor from Japan, set off a major alert when he entered an unlocked door in a restricted area at the Royal residence
A map indicates the route that the Japanese tourist took to get just yards from the Queen's private appartment
‘He was subsequently identified by on-duty Royal Collection Trust wardens and police officers and detained.
'He was released after checks indicated that he posed no security risk. Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family were not in residence.’
JUST ONE FLIGHT OF STAIRS AND 237FT FROM QUEEN'S PRIVATE APARTMENT
At the point where he was found in an off-limits area on the ground floor of the State Apartments, the tourist was just a few steps from Windsor Castle’s Grand Staircase, leading – via a single corridor – to the splendours of St George’s Hall, the setting for lavish State banquets.
Heading in a straight line along the 237ft length of St George’s Hall, he could then have walked directly into the Castle’s Private Chapel, with the Crimson Drawing Room in the Queen’s private apartments just beyond.
Scotland Yard is responsible for security at the site. A police spokesman said: ‘On February 12, 2015, a visitor to Windsor Castle entered an administrative area not open to the public. He was detained by police and Palace staff and released once it was established that he posed no security risk.’
Royal residences are protected sites under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and trespass is a criminal offence.
Visitors must remain within the public area and risk prosecution for straying into private areas.
All Royal residences are currently on high alert because of fears of a terrorist attack.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in December how security chiefs had taken the dramatic step of withdrawing Royal Guards from their high-profile posts outside palaces in London amid safety fears. The guards at both Clarence House and St James’s Palace have been moved inside the gates, and armed police have been deployed to guard the soldiers at Horse Guards Parade and the sentry boxes in Windsor.
Private: The Crimson Drawing Room in the Queen's apartments at Windsor Castle
This newspaper also disclosed last month how security fears had led to the installation at Windsor Castle of the same anti-terrorist bollards used to protect US diplomats in Afghanistan.
Last month’s incident is thought to be most serious security alert at Windsor Castle since lorry driver Robert Pennefather scaled a fence and was apprehended by armed Royal protection officers just 20 yards from the Queen’s apartments in 2011.
Pennefather, of Co Tipperary, said later he couldn’t remember the alcohol-fuelled intrusion and apologised to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. He was fined £1, 000 and given a suspended two-week jail term.
Castle security was also famously breached in 2003 when ‘comedy terrorist’ Aaron Barschak scaled the walls and crashed Prince William’s 21st birthday party dressed as Osama Bin Laden in drag.