Bad week at Buckingham Palace: Prince Andrew mistaken for intruder

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(CNN) — Police spotted a man in the gardens of Buckingham Palace and stopped him, concerned he might be an intruder.

The man in question: Prince Andrew, Duke of York. He was out for a stroll through the manicured gardens in the early evening.

Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth II, was born in the palace in 1960, has offices there, and spends much of his time there.

Oops.

Two uniformed officers spotted him at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and approached him “to verify his identity,” the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. “The man was satisfactorily identified.”

“The police have a difficult job to do balancing security for the royal family and deterring intruders and sometimes they get it wrong,” Prince Andrew — brother of Prince Charles and former husband of Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson — said in a statement.

“I am grateful for their apology and look forward to a safe walk in the gardens in the future.”

The British press reacted withpredictable excitement. A few accounts, apparently incorrectly, reported that the officers had their guns drawn. One outlet wrote that the prince was “held at gunpoint.”

According to the authorities, no force was used, and no weapons were drawn.

Guards were already on higher alert when the incident took place.

Two days earlier, it was the real deal: a security breach at Buckingham Palace.

A man scaled a security fence and entered the building before being detained. Authorities arrested him for burglary, trespass and criminal damage. Another man was arrested later for alleged conspiracy to commit burglary.

The incident drew headlines around the world.

It was the latest in a series of security lapses over the years, a few quite colorful. In 2004 “Batman” scaled a fence and stood on a ledge to make a point about paternal rights.

A year earlier, another royal residence, Windsor Castle, had an uninvited guest: someone dressed as Osama bin Laden showed up at Prince William’s birthday party.

It turned out both incidents had more to do with publicity for the perpetrators than safety of the royal residents. “Batman” was merely a dad with a cause; “bin Laden,” a comedian.

But Monday’s alleged burglar seemed different, a more serious matter. Comparisons were drawn to the time in 1982 that a man made it all the way to the bedside of Queen Elizabeth. The queen talked to that intruder until help arrived.

As for Prince Andrew, the garden incident wasn’t his first brush with security gone wrong. In 2003 a bodyguard accidentally fired a shot while unloading his weapon at the prince’s mansion.

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux

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