During Queen Victoria’s 63-year reign, seven young men, many of them teenagers, made the fateful decision to attack her. After each attempt the news shot through Britain like lightning – journalists, politicians, police and the public all clamoured for information. Why on earth did they do it? Dr Bob Nicholson is an expert in Victorian journalism and popular culture, but the seven assailants were unknown to him – even though their lives intertwined with the most famous woman on the planet. Bob sifts through the police archives, census returns, court reports and the grubby world of Victorian newspapers to piece together their stories, and try and establish the motives of the seven.
The first to attack the Queen was 18 year-old Edward Oxford, who worked clearing glasses in a London pub. One day in June 1840 he walked to Buckingham Palace, took a duelling pistol from his pocket and fired at Victoria as she passed by in her carriage. Oxford’s target was just 21 years old and pregnant with her first child. Victoria was unhurt, but shocked. Oxford is caught and put on trial for high treason; within hours, journalists and detectives try to uncover the young assassin’s story. Bob carries out detective work of his own and discovers a traumatic family history that may hold the key to Edward Oxford’s infamous crime.
In 1882, the threat of assassination was in the air. The year before, Tsar Alexander II was killed by an assassin’s bomb, then in July, American President James Garfield was also murdered. Queen Victoria, on the throne for 45 years seemed vulnerable. The final attempt on her life was from a...
In March 1868 Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred was at a charity event in Sydney, Australia when an Irishman named Henry O’Farrell walked up behind him and shot the young prince at point blank range in the back, just missing his spine. O’Farrell was captured, beaten, swiftly tried and found...