Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK
'Disturbed' royal visitors worry police
Most of the disturbed who visit royal palaces are "harmless"
More than 6,000 mentally disturbed persons have visited Britain's Royal palaces or written persistently to the Royal Family in the past six years, a police report has warned.
The Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says police officers who guard royalty must be given psychiatric training to help them deal with such situations.
In 1997, the late Princess of Wales was said to be "distraught" after a mystery intruder to Kensington Palace forced a lock at the Orangery, adjacent to her living quarters.
In the same year, an escaped psychiatric patient evaded security to get into the grounds of Buckingham Palace while the Queen was away.
In a report on the Royal Protection Squad published on Wednesday, the HMIC's Colin Smith said the unit had been "very successful", with no "disabling attacks" on any royal figure and very few incursions into palaces.
But he said police were aware of about 60 people, about half of whom came to notice by visiting Buckingham Palace, who could pose a potential threat.
'Most are harmless'
Mr Smith says there has never been any training for protection officers in how to deal with individuals who appear to have a fixation with royalty.
The call for better training for officers was echoed by mental health charities.
Paul Corry of the National Schizophrenic Fellowship, which runs training courses for several police forces, said it was vital Royal Protection officers were well-trained.
He said they must be able to assess immediately who is simply in mental distress, and who is a criminal intent on damage.
Officers need to know how to handle a confrontation without inflaming a "crisis" situation, he said - especially as they are routinely armed.
Delusions of grandeur
The reason for royal family members attracted such attention partly because of their fame, and partly because of their perceived position as the ultimate state authority.
He said one schizophrenic disorder was delusion of grandeur.
Mr Corry said: "People may stroll into Buckingham Palace believing that they are the Queen or King of England.
"The royal family are public figures and they are in most people's consciousness. The fame of the royal family is immense.
"If doctors are testing somebody who is concussed, they will ask: 'Who is the Queen of England?' rather than 'Who is the Prime Minister?' or 'Who is number one in the pop charts?' - because everyone knows it."
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said they never commented on security matters.