LONDON, June 13, 1981 — An unemployed teen-ager from southern England ran up to Queen Elizabeth II today and fired several pistol blanks at her as she rode horseback along The Mall to the Trooping the Color ceremony marking her official birthday, the police said.
The Queen was not hurt, although her 19-year-old horse, Burmese, shied at the noise and a witness said the Queen looked white and shaken. She is an expert rider and quickly brought the horse under control.
The incident occurred just after 11 A.M. as the Queen, dressed in a scarlet military tunic and a black riding skirt, rode from Buckingham Palace past huge crowds along the tree-lined Mall on her way to the ceremony.
Although the Queen, 55 years old, was never apparently in serious danger, the incident underscored the difficulty of protecting someone whose job consists largely of appearing at public functions.
As millions watched on television, the youth, identified by the police as Marcus Simon Sarjeant, 17, simply stepped from the crowd and fired directly at the Queen as many as six times before being wrestled to the ground by policemen and onlookers.
Just behind the Queen, who was at the head of the procession, were Prince Philip, her husband, and Prince Charles, her son and heir to the throne.
Afterward, the ceremony proceeded uneventfully. Mr. Sarjeant, from the coastal town of Folkestone, was charged under the Treason Act of 1842. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday and faces a maximum sentence of seven years.
No motive was immediately known for today’s incident, which raised new fears about security for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on July 29.
Some witnesses said that Mr. Sarjeant had a Lady Diana and Prince Charles wedding button on his jacket. A spokesman at Buckingham Palace said tonight that today’s incident would be taken into account by those responsible for security at future royal events, including the imminent wedding.
Lady Diana was wearing a custom Bill Pashley blue floral suit which she had requested from him when she met him in May 1981 with her Mother, Frances Shand Kydd.