Original article from Kent Live
1981 was a memorable year – Ronald Reagan was inaugurated the 40th president of the USA, the Yorkshire Ripper was caught, Prince Charles married Diana – and a man from Kent tried to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.
Marcus Sarjeant, a 17-year-old boy at the time, fired six times at the monarch on June 13, 1981, while she was taking part in the Trooping the Colour celebration that marks the head of state's official birthday.
The story has largely been forgotten about today and Sargeant himself has reportedly turned his life around.
But just how did he end up where he did, and what stopped the east-Kent man from changing the course of British history?
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Sarjeant's Military Past
Sarjeant was a boy scout in his childhood, growing up in Capel-Le-Ferne just outside Folkestone, joining a number of parts of the British military to little success in his teens.
Having joined the Air Training Corps in 1978, Sarjeant went on to attempt to enlist with the Royal Marines, leaving after three months and claiming the officers had bullied him.
He similarly tried to join the Army, but again left after only two days of induction.
Bouncing between a number of other jobs after failing to join the Police and Fire services, Sarjeant found himself becoming member of the anti-royalist movement in 1980.
From there, Sarjeant ordered two imitation Colt Python revolvers for £66.90 through mail order, both of which were only capable of firing blanks, after failing to acquire ammunition for his father's handgun.
He then sent photos and a note to two magazines, including one image of him posing with his father's firearm.
He also sent a letter to Buckingham Palace, with the sinister message: "Your Majesty. Don't go to the Trooping the Colour ceremony because there is an assassin set up to kill you, waiting just outside the palace."
Ironically, the letter arrived three days after the incident took place, only making it to the royal residence on June 16.
The assassination attempt
Finding a place to conceal himself near the end of the Royal Mall, Sarjeant fired six shots at the Queen before he was subdued by a Royal Guardsman, Corporal Galloway, and a number of police officers.
As he was arrested he supposedly told them, "I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a somebody."
The Queen was unharmed, as was the horse she was riding at the time, managing to bring the startled steed under control, continuing the ceremony with little unexpected fanfare.
To call Sarjeant's attack on the Queen a true attempted shooting would be a slight overstatement, as there was no chance that anything fired from his handguns would directly have injured anybody – but the man's intent to cause harm is indisputable.
He was convicted under the 1842 Treason act, and jailed for 5 years for the attempted shooting, serving three years of his sentence.
A misguided, but not unique mentality
Sarjeant's inspirations for his actions are interesting, not because they are unique, but because of just how familiar much of his story is.
It was revealed during the investigation that Sarjeant had been inspired by past events, from the murder of John Lennon, to the attempted killings of Pope John II and Ronald Reagan, further motivated to become "the most famous teenager in the world," in his own words.
Fifteen years before the Dunblane Massacre, and eighteen before the infamous US Columbine shooting, this former Kent resident's story is uncomfortably familiar.
A young man who, having been rejected from a life he had so clearly desired, failed to process that rejection and move on, instead deciding to gain attention through infamy.
Even this attempt didn't work – Sarjeant is not an especially notable figure in the canon of famous British criminals, and having left prison, he appears to have been successfully rehabilitated, changing his name and starting a new life separate from his troubled teenage years.
Seemingly, for all the ill intent he harboured, very little harm was done, and his story has been largely forgotten.
Saved from that notoriety, and likely a lifetime in prison, by his own incompetence and almost childish approach, Sarjeant's story may not be the most famous one of a Kent-based criminal.
Looking back at the kind of acts that would follow, perpetrated by young, vaguely disenfranchised men, however, it may just be one of the most interesting.