Famous Assassination Attempts on the British Royal Family

Source: Princess Diana Archive / Hulton Royals Collection via Getty Images

After Queen Elizabeth II died in September, the crown was peacefully passed to her son, King Charles II (though technically he won’t be crowned until May 6). Because of the smooth transition, it’s easy to forget the British monarchy hasn’t always been so popular. Throughout British history, kings, queens, and princes have been the target of assassins. Thankfully, in all cases except one, the family member survived.

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the most famous assassination attempts against the British Royal Family, using such sites as Historic UK, History, Biography, as well as various media sources in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the U.S. There have been numerous plots to assassinate members of the Royal Family, but our list focuses on the assassination attempts that were actually carried out. (Worldwide, these are the most famous failed assassinations.) 

Politics, as expected, played a role in many would-be assassinations. A man protesting the British treatment of the Irish was behind the 1872 plot against Queen Victoria. In all, eight attempts were made on her life, although only two are highlighted here. The late Queen Elizabeth II reportedly narrowly escaped five potential assassinations, and lived on to become one of  the 20 longest-reigning monarchs in history. 

In only one instance, did the assassination attempt turn deadly. In 1979, a bomb planted by IRA terrorists killed Lord Louis Mountbatten, a second cousin to Queen Elizabeth II and great-uncle and mentor to the future King Charles III, while he sailed off the coast of Ireland. 

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