On 30 May 1842, Constable William Trounce of the London Metropolitan Police put Queen Victoria in grave danger—by saluting her.
He had been posted to watch for suspicious activity outside Buckingham Palace in Green Park. He had been observing a nervous and furtive-looking young man for some time, when the royal carriage approached, returning from a ride around the parks. Trounce turned away from the man and saluted his Queen. That man was John Francis, Victoria’s second would-be assassin, who drew a flintlock from his coat and got off a shot at the queen.
In a statement taken the next day, shown above, Trounce betrayed his confusion, and hinted at some feelings of guilt. “…if I had known at the first moment who fired the Pistol, I could have laid hold of him sooner it was not as if I had seen him fire the Pistol I could have then laid hold of him sooner, or if I had known he was going to fire it, I seized him instantly on seeing the Pistol in his hand.”
As the Superintendent of A Division testified to Trounce’s good character, Trounce kept his job. Queen Victoria was unhurt. John Francis was tried and sentenced to death for his shot—a sentence commuted to transportation for life.