New Zealand’s intelligence agency has released previously classified documents that confirm that a 17-year-old anti-royalist tried to assassinate Queen Elizabeth during an official visit to the city of Dunedin in 1981. Christopher Lewis, a member of a right-wing terror group, which he founded with two friends, hid in a bathroom on the fifth floor of a building that overlooked the royal motorcade on October 14, 1981. He fired a single shot with a stolen .22-caliber rifle in the direction of the queen.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the attack. Lewis was never charged with attempting to kill the queen, but he was accused of other offenses, including discharging a firearm. “Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the queen,” the documents say, according to the website Stuff. But he “did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range.”
At the time, members of the public and the media were told by authorities “what they took to be a shot” was just a board falling over. There is speculation that a “cover up” was carried out by authorities to avoid embarrassment during the royal tour and to ensure future visits from the monarch would not be affected.
A memo in 1981 from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service hinted that the situation was being dealt with quietly. It reads: “Current police investigations into the shots have been conducted discreetly and most media representatives probably have the impression that the noise was caused by a firework of some description. There is a worry, however, that in court the press may make the connections between the date of the offense and the queen’s visit.”
New Zealand police have since launched an investigation into the handling of the incident. “Given the passage of time, it is anticipated this examination of the old file and its associated material will take some time,” a police spokesperson said. “New Zealand Police will share the outcome of this examination once it has been completed.”
After the assassination attempt, Lewis then committed a series of armed robberies and was charged with the brutal murder of a woman. He took his own life in prison while awaiting trial in 1997. He was just 33.
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This post was written by Candice Mehta-Culjak. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.