Following the release of documents from the New Zealand Intelligence Agency, it has been confirmed that a 17-year-old anti-royalist tried to assassinate Her Majesty The Queen during a 1981 trip to Dunedin. A fresh Police investigation has now been launched into an alleged “cover-up”.
According to a 1997 memo from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, the shot that Christopher Lewis took from the fifth floor of a building overlooking the royal parade in Dunedin missed The Queen and may not have even been aimed at The Queen. The single shot from a 22 Rifle was taken as Her Majesty exited her vehicle.
The memo said, “Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate The Queen, however, did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target. Although an anti-royalist, Lewis had absolutely no connections with any Irish Republican groups.” The memo was released after a Freedom of Information request from by Fairfax Media.
Christopher Lewis was not charged with the attempted assassination of the Monarch and was only charged with unlawful possession and discharge of a firearm. He claimed to be in command of a shadowy group called the National Imperial Guerilla Army.
The lack of public comment surrounding the attempted assassination seems to indicate that authorities – under political pressure – tried to cover up the incident to avoid embarrassment during the royal visit and to ensure that further royal visits would go ahead.
The release of the memo marked ‘Secret’ and titled ‘Possible Attempt on the Life of Queen Elizabeth II by National Imperial Guerilla Army’ has prompted police in New Zealand to launch an investigation into the handling of the incident.
The Queen was not put off returning to New Zealand and visited the country multiple times after the event. Her most recent trip came in February 2002 when she was hosted by Governor-General Cartwright.
Photo Credit: By NASA/Bill Ingalls