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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
How can palace security be improved?
Aaron Barschak, Windsor Castle intruder
Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John Stevens has apologised to the Royal Family after a gatecrasher invaded Prince William's 21st birthday party.

Aaron Barschak, a stand-up comedian who was dressed as terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a pink ballgown, was able to mingle with guests including senior royals at the event which was held at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has ordered a report from Scotland Yard on the incident and said he will make a statement in the Commons on Tuesday.

How can security be improved for the royals? Have you seen Aaron Barschak's stand-up act? Tell us what you think.


Thank you for your e-mails. This debate is now closed. The following comments reflect the balance of opinions we have received:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Jonny Uhu, UK
Does the "Windsor intruder" incident expose a worrying deficiency in the security services provided for the royals?

It sounds like the security arrangements were too lax and the guests should have been made to wear special ID passes. Holding a fancy dress party was always going to be a risk from an ID point of view and the police should have been extra careful. A previous contributor commented that nobody cares about a fool gatecrashing a royal. Wrong! If the royal family had been blown sky high, it wd have been our 9/11. Apart from Prince Edward then becoming King, the UK would become a police state, with compulsory ID cards and very tough intrusive security. Think about it. It does matter.
Sue, UK

More interesting than the actual event is the media "spin" on the outcome. In the US, if the perpetrator had assaulted the White House in the same manner, he would have been shot on site. Of, course, the media and the politicians would have had a heyday, stirring up public sentiment trying to figure out why the security employed an "excessive use of force" on an "obviously recognizable" celebrity. Regardless of whether he was killed in the attempt or not, he achieved his objective as an entertainer - to get international media coverage, and causing political authorities to react with new, extraordinary policies and procedures as a direct result of his "show".
Doug Rust, USA

Total security is a terrible burden inconsistent with a balanced and fruitful life. If we want the excellent William to be as cosseted and wrapped as Charles was then so be it. Otherwise we must accept that the people breaking the basic security line will be friendly and stupid rather than ominous.
Dave Smith, New Zealand

The police are having to walk a very fine line here
Mat, UK
Hang on, the police are having to walk a very fine line here. If they did get all heavy handed, checking everyone, acting upon every suspicion they'd get accused by most of the aristocratic guests there of going over the top/violating their privacy etc. It would be in the vein of "do you know who I am?!" and we'd now be reading about how affronted they were by the police. Instead we're reading about a bearded comedian in a dress. Big deal. Who cares?
Mat, UK

Hats off to him for his nerve! Above all though; he did more good than harm! He should be thanked by the Royals and by the Police for pointing out the security weaknesses.
Fred , UK

Well done to Aaron Barschak for thorougly entertaining us in a monumentally dull news month. He took the mickey out of the pompous, pampered Windsor family and the sycophantic media pack gloriously. How the rest of the world must be splitting their sides at our expense. An isolated, inward-looking 'kingdom' still bowing and scraping to unelected monarchs as they did centuries ago.
Nick Roberts-Alatti, UK

The Home Secretary should resign at once and be replaced with someone more competent. This matter was his responsibility and his criticism of the police should not have been made public. Are there no members of this Government with any honour?
p cleverly, uk

The person I feel should apologise is Barschak
Kate, UK
Yes, the incident shows the security was not at the level many expected, but the person I feel should apologise is Barschak, I hope he feels ashamed for ruining Williams 21st birthday. If an uninvited guest appears at any occasion and stands up on stage most people would try to forget that part of the evening. For William however, he cannot forget, as it has become yet another national debate. Let William remember his party as a celebration with his friends and family. He has to go through every day of his life knowing that there are people who might want to destroy him and everything he stands for, but he keeps going. He has to place his trust in his protection teams, and telling the world that the security was insufficient will only cause William to hide further and further away from the public, in an attempt to keep him 'safe'.
Kate, UK

It seems the Beckhams are better protected. The security is a disgrace. Heads should not wait to be "rolled" - those involved should have the simple honesty to resign from their jobs.
Jonathan, UK

Mr Barschak wasn't a threat to the Royals, and so it sounds to me like the police made a good judgement call. Or are we at the stage where we believe that British citizens have to certify their innocence in triplicate in order to get within spitting distance of the royals that we support with our taxes?
Colin MacDonald, Scotland

Surely at a private party it is the responsibility of those throwing the party to ensure there are no gatecrashers? They should have hired private security and then maybe the police could have got on with the job they are supposed to do.
J, Uk

The Queen should hire soldiers to guard her life. That should do it. Also, if people visit her they could be asked for their invitations before entering. Maybe checked on a list. Or am I being some sort of crazy radical now? Maybe best not... let's just muddle through┐ always works.
Jim, London

We are unprotected, unprepared
Vanessa J, UK
No, I couldn't care less about the Royal Family. What I do care about is security for us: On the tube, on trains, on the buses, walking down the road, in shops, at work, every moment of every day where we the public are targets. We are unprotected, unprepared, we don't have bodyguards or infra red fencing around our homes. We don't get told what we should do, where we should go, the best way to survive a terrorist attack. We are told nothing and risk our lives every single day. This is just a one off incident on the guy's 21st birthday. So what?
Vanessa J, UK

This man is not a "comedian", he is a wannabe who is very stupid and has cost the taxpayer money, I hope the police throw the book at him.
Peter Hewett, Canada

The whole stunt was completely stupid and dangerous. With a bevy of armed guards around the palace shots could have rang out leaving people killed or injured. And all for a comic stunt. Perhaps Harry's 21st should be held on smaller premises away from large palace grounds where people can hide in so many different places and strike when the time is right.
pete, uk

Well done to the guy, and I guess a bit of humour will not go amiss. Where's people's sense of humour these days?
John, UK

If someone wanted to harm a royal, they could simply attack from the crowds that line the streets in a procession or during a round of public hand shaking. That would take far less effort.
John, UK

Says it all about the royals, doesn't it? A man, dressed in a pink backless dress, with an Osama bin Laden beard, three sheets to the wind - and the police come to the conclusion that the only possible place he could be is with the Windsors. Says more about Wills' ridiculous party than it does about the police.
Chris Sampson, UK

Seriously, if anyone dressed as Osama Bin Laden can get into Prince William's birthday party, who can't? This country needs a clean up from incompetent security guards. The war on terrorism is not won overseas, but here, where the terrorists could attack.
Jason Kelleher, UK

If a terrorist really wanted to target the Royals do you think he/she would really have dressed up and acted the way Barschak did? Or would they have tried to 'blend in' to the crowd? Perhaps the security services at Windsor were too busy looking for threats from people dressed in suits to pay any real attention to some idiot dressed up like Osama bin Laden in a ballgown. There are people like that at any big event involving Royalty nowadays, and whilst they may be more irritating than amusing, few of them represent any real threat, because they're too obvious.
Martin, Wales, UK

The police should have smelled a rat
David, USA
Like a number of other people here, I believe the police should have smelled a rat when they saw how this guy was dressed. It was announced way before the event, that the theme was Africa. What in God's name has Osama Bin Laden got to do with Africa?
Andy, UK

He's a hero for exposing flaws in the system - and for embarrassing Blunkett. (Barschak should be a consultant to the security services...) However, there will always be flaws, and the whole thing is just a lame excuse to ratchet up the paranoia and 'security' levels.
David, USA

What a nerve this government has, telling us to be vigilant against terrorism, while they, specifically the Home Office, are so lax to have risked the entire Royal Family. Blunkett must resign.
Stuart Old, Scotland

How on earth was someone looking like that able to convince a police officer that he should be there? Perhaps some basic observation training wouldn't go amiss!
Dave, London, UK

I think the security services owe Aaron Barschak a big vote of thanks for showing how lax security for the Royal family is without actually putting them in any danger. I hope he won't be charged with anything!
Richard, UK

Give the security officials a break
Terry, USA
I think everybody needs to calm down. It seems the most important issue is the man's portrayal of Osama bin Laden at a royal costume party. Give the security officials a break for crying out loud. Would the uproar be as intense if the guy appeared as the Queen or George W?
Terry, USA

If the police cannot control the admission of 300 named guests arriving at a walled castle, presumably giving it their best effort, what chance do we have against terrorism etc. Their ineptitude is mind boggling.
John Howe, England

I want the Royal Family to continue to be accessible. If they retreat behind closed doors and bullet proof cars then there will be no point in having them.
Luke Magee, UK

The Royal Family serve the nation mainly as a source of good comedy. Inferior comedians should, quite rightly, be kept out of the act.
Hugh, England

David Blunkett is just making political capital out of this incident. Why doesn't he show public concern over the rising crime in the UK? Nobody cares about a fool gatecrashing the royal party. What's different now compared with when the Queen's bedroom was invaded years ago?
Pepe, UK




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