Intruder Disguised as Priest Not Only Breaks onto Windsor Castle Grounds, But Spends the Night There

The fake priest called himself “Father Cruise.”

Windsor Castle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a stunning breach of security, an intruder posing as a priest not only was allowed onto the grounds of Windsor Castle—now the Queen’s primary residence—but spent the night in Windsor’s Victoria Barracks, housing for the soldiers who protect the Queen while she is at Windsor. (Her Majesty, thankfully, wasn’t at Windsor at the time; she was still away at the Sandringham Estate, where she visited for her 96th birthday.)

The breach happened on April 26, when a man dressed as a priest “claimed to be a friend of the Coldstream Guards’ military chaplain,” according to PEOPLE. “He was allowed inside without showing identification, where he reportedly spent the evening eating and drinking with senior officers.”

Within a couple of hours, the intruder—who identified himself as “Father Cruise”—was drinking with the officers in the bar and telling them stories of how he had served in Iraq, a source told TalkTV, per PEOPLE.

“He was telling lots of tall stories and the lads were enjoying his banter and having a few drinks,” the source said. “It was only later when he started talking about how he had worked as an ejector-seat test pilot and had some organs replaced that the chaps started to get suspicious.”

It wasn’t until 9:20 the next morning (!) that a report of an intruder at Victoria Barracks (finally) came in. The man was removed and “no further action was required,” said a spokesperson for the Thames Valley Police. The Queen returned from her visit to Sandringham just hours later. (A source notes that there was no breach of security at Windsor Castle and there was no breach of royal security.)

However, and rightfully so, there is now an investigation into the security breach underway, according to a spokesperson for the British Army, who told PEOPLE “The Army takes this breach of security extremely seriously and it will be thoroughly investigated as a matter of priority. This incident is now part of an ongoing investigation, and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

This isn’t the first breach of security on royal grounds, and not even the first in the past 365 days. In 2021, an intruder with a crossbow was arrested on the Windsor Castle grounds as Her Majesty and other members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Camilla, celebrated Christmas at Windsor. And viewers of The Crown likely remember the storyline about Michael Fagan, who was able to brazenly enter the Queen’s Buckingham Palace bedroom in 1982. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.