AN armed intruder was arrested at Windsor Castle yesterday as the Queen celebrated Christmas there.
Sources claim the man, 19, had a crossbow and got in using a rope ladder.
Her Majesty was inside with other royals before her tribute to late hubby Philip was broadcast to the nation in her emotional Christmas Day message.
Police confirmed they swooped on the teen at 8.30am “within moments of him entering the grounds”. They said he did not get into any buildings.
He had “an offensive weapon”, though officers did not reveal what type. However, a security source said last night: “I’m told the man had a crossbow.”
It was also suggested the intruder may have used a rope ladder to climb over a spiked fence off the Long Walk, in a publicly accessible area close to apartments used by Her Majesty.
A royal source said: “Police responded to this very quickly – but it is still terrifying and shocking that it happened while the Queen and senior royals were at Windsor for Christmas.”
Last night, former royal police protection officer Dai Davies said: “This is worrying and a review will be carried out after this shocking incident.”
A royal insider added: “The timing is quite worrying as it was widely known that Her Majesty would be at Windsor for Christmas. Fortunately, this guy did not get near her or any other royals – it could have been a lot worse.
“One of the key things the security services and police are looking at is if he could have been inspired by a terrorist motive, or if he was some sort of crank or loner.”
The suspect, from Southampton, was being quizzed by cops last night. It was not said whether he had any terrorist or extremist-linked motives.
Officers from Thames Valley Police and London’s Met are probing whether he made the 60-mile trip to Windsor from Southampton yesterday.
The Queen, 95, and other royals were informed of the security breach, which happened as Her Majesty had breakfast.
Just over two hours later, royals including Charles, Camilla, Edward and Sophie walked in the castle grounds to a Christmas Day church service.
Supt Rebecca Mears said: “The man has been arrested on suspicion of breach or trespass of a protected site and possession of an offensive weapon.
“He remains in custody at this time. We can confirm security processes were triggered within moments of the man entering the grounds and he did not enter any buildings. The Royal Family has been informed of the incident.”
The Queen has been performing “light duties” since a health scare saw her go to hospital in October, and she did not attend the church service yesterday.
This was her first Christmas without Philip – her husband of 73 years who died aged 99 in April.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment yesterday.