A trusted royal guard spills the secrets of a decade of misbehaviour inside Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s call sign was “Purple One”, and her husband was referred to as “Phil the Greek”.
Prince Andrew, meanwhile, was known simply as “The Cunt”.
1. The guards would turn up to work drunk and disorderly – with disastrous consequences.
Drinking was a “huge part of the culture” among the Queen’s guards, but such was the need to have a full relief of armed officers on duty at all times that Page said even those who turned up smelling strongly of booze were allowed to book out weapons and get on with the job. If they were seriously drunk they might be advised to sleep it off in one of the palace rooms, or given medical relief in the form of “a pack of mints and a Lucozade”. Page recalled one incident when a senior official in the royal household was coming through the palace gates, and instead of lifting the barrier, a hungover officer accidentally pressed the underground ramp button, sending the woman’s car into the air.
2. They got their friends on to the Queen’s protection squad by helping them cheat the entry test.
Life on the royalty protection command was seen as an easy gig and a nice little earner. Page said that he and some colleagues wangled their police friends off the beat and into the palace by tipping them off about the questions they would be asked at interview. Even without cheating, new recruits would have been hard-pushed to fail the flimsy entry test. Page says they were merely required to identify a mugshot of a prominent royal and answer questions such as, “Is it ever OK to read a book while guarding the gate to the Queen’s private quarters?” (Answer: no.)
3. They gave each other lewd nicknames ranging from “Roy the Rapist” to “Doug the Slug”.
4. They snapped themselves striking gun-toting gangster poses on the throne while the Queen was asleep.
5. They smuggled Prince Andrew’s “lady friends” into and out of the palace.
Page used his trial to dish the dirt on the private antics of Prince Andrew, who sometimes stayed at Buckingham Palace when his mum was away. “[He] would often have lady friends come to visit him,” Page alleged in one legal document. “Very rarely would they have to sign in the gate book when entering the Palace grounds, in direct contravention of accepted protocol. In addition royalty officers would be told on occasion to drive these ‘lady friends’ home when that was a clear dereliction of their duties.” The allegations chimed with a slew of tabloid stories about Prince Andrew’s proclivities after he separated from Sarah Ferguson in 1992. “Randy Andy” and “Andy’s Candy” were just some of the headlines that followed him around the globe.
6. They bought and sold steroids and pornography in the palace locker room.
Police officers are allowed to register outside business interests only if they are “compatible” with the duties of a cop, carried out in their own time, and don’t bring the force into disrepute. But Page said that one officer struck up a lively trade selling porn and steroids to his colleagues from the locker room of Buckingham Palace.
7. They were often armed, drunk, and trigger-happy.
All royal protection officers are armed to protect the Queen from intruders – but that was a recipe for trouble. One officer was soon nicknamed “Two Shots” after accidentally discharging his weapon twice on the Queen’s train. Others secretly carried their guns without any bullets because they didn’t want to have to shoot an intruder. Meanwhile, Page and his colleagues were putting their fully loaded weapons to other uses. As well as carrying firearms while drunk and using them as props for gangster-style photo shoots, some officers threatened to turn their guns on themselves or others, Page said. He recalled how one officer stationed at a post on the palace perimeter threatened to shoot himself while on night duty. He was talked out of it and had his gun confiscated – but then managers redeployed him to a new role handing out weapons to others. Page also had his gun taken away for threatening to shoot a relative, but it was returned after three months.
8. They devised a “ring-around system” to make sure they weren’t caught napping on duty.
9. They let friends and family park at St James’s Palace when they wanted to go shopping in London.
Everyone knows the nightmare and expense of parking in central London, but royal protection officers had a way to get around it. Royal household staff, diplomats, and other dignitaries unable to park at nearby Buckingham Palace can do so at St James’s Palace on the Mall. At Page’s trial, one constable revealed that for years there was an “unwritten rule” for officers to also raise the barrier for wives, friends, and family members who fancied a spot of shopping, maybe followed by a West End show.
10. They turned the palace into a hotbed of high-risk gambling and Ponzi schemes.
Managers turned a blind eye to a culture of high-risk gambling schemes within the palace in which officers lured investors and colleagues into pumping huge sums into hopeless ventures, according to Page. One such pyramid-like scheme punted by a young constable was an investment in women’s empowerment. He and a businessman also peddled a deal involving synthetic fibres used in body armour. Both schemes lost police and royal household investors so much money that Page says a group of protection officers plotted to give the constable “a kicking” in the locker room – while he suggested driving a scrap car through the businessman’s living room. Luckily for the young guard, word of the planned attack got back to senior management and he was moved to Windsor Castle for “welfare reasons”.
But the worst instance of financial chicanery in the history of the royal protection squad was Page’s own Currency Club. Through this property and spread-betting Ponzi scheme, he conned police and civilian investors out of £3 million to fund his own spiralling gambling addiction.
11. Page used Scotland Yard’s seal of approval to convince investors to pump millions into a sham company.
Page set up a sham company called United Land and Property Development Ltd and used Metropolitan police approval on its official register of officers’ outside business interests to convince investors it was kosher. Those who fell for the trick pumped millions of pounds into the firm, which was a front for Page’s increasingly degenerate spread-betting. The fraudster was soon gambling away new investors’ money on a vast scale in the hope of winning enough to pay off earlier investors – a classic Ponzi fraud. The Met carried out no checks on the company for three years while it was the vehicle for Page’s scam. Simple research would have revealed the company had no office, no staff, no accounts, and no licence to invest other people’s money. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the senior officer who authorised all this when he was in charge of human resources, is now the head of the Met. The force admitted in a statement that its failure to carry out any checks was “a matter of regret”, and it is now facing potential civil claims from investors who lost their savings.
When the scam was eventually busted and anti-corruption detectives raided Page’s home, they found a diary full of drunken doodles including one that branded his sham company “United Piss Your Money Up the Wall Ltd” and quipped, “Invest with us and I’ll kill you when you need your money back.” That document was the coup de grâce at his eventual trial.
12. They helped investors gatecrash the Queen’s garden parties.
People who paid money into Page’s Ponzi scheme were given backdoor access to parties at Buckingham Palace. The disgraced guard admitted at his trial that some officers gave “extra perks to some loyal investors whereby it was arranged that the investor and one guest would be ‘spirited’ into royal garden parties”. He went on: “These persons were not guests of the Queen nor were they subjected to the strict vetting procedures undertaken on genuine guests. They would bypass the usual long queues and were escorted through various security posts before being left in the grounds of the palace with bona fide guests. Additionally, they were given the mobile number of an officer if any problems occurred and briefed with a cover story.”
13. The guards dished out cash-stuffed brown envelopes and provided police escorts for vehicles “full of money”.
In the early years of Page’s Currency Club he made cash for his investors by betting on stocks and shares during the economic boom and he would drive his blacked-out Range Rover from palace to palace dishing out brown envelopes stuffed with cash to other guards. The palace cameras, he said, were turned away while officers left their posts to hop in and out of his car to collect their winnings. “It was mega money,” said Page. “Sometimes in my house I’d have one hundred grand laid out on the floor. It was that bad. It got to the stage where we had police convoys, I shit you not, full of money.” The excitement was so hard to contain that officers had to be warned not to use their police radios to pass on movements in the stock market while waiting for the Queen to be driven into Buckingham Palace. “We laughed about it, but it was not on,” Page said. “We didn’t grasp that we shouldn’t be doing it.”
14. Page wangled “free” luxury cars and holidays for the fellow officers he was conning.
As Page’s gambling spun out of control and he began to haemorrhage millions of pounds, he had to find other ways of keeping his investors happy while they waited for their big payday. One perk he offered was the “free” use of luxury cars. He had struck up a relationship with a firm that leased him a Porsche and the Range Rover he drove to Buckingham Palace. In exchange for the hire company turning a blind eye to his late payment of bills, Page and a group of fellow officers began moonlighting as repossession men and used their police powers to locate and seize cars that other customers had failed to return.
Another perk he offered his investors was a variety of “free” holidays to exotic locations. Page used a travel company where his best friend worked to provide the trips, leaving the tickets in palace pigeonholes. But the money to pay for these junkets came from new investors.
15. The pyramid scam became so audacious that investors hired a hitman to kill Page.
When a group of Page’s investors realised they had been scammed, a hitman was hired to kidnap or kill him. Secret police documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show that the Met learned of the plot and warned the fraudster that he and his family were in grave danger. Days later, drunk and deranged, he spotted a car outside his house and mistook a press photographer for an assassin. He grabbed his gun, and a high-speed car chase through the main road to Lakeside Shopping Centre ensued. The snapper eventually crashed at a roundabout and Page dragged him out of his car at gunpoint. He frogmarched the traumatised photographer to the traffic island with the gun to his head while other drivers ran for cover. The cop was arrested and sent for trial for the assault but was found not guilty because he was acting on a police warning that his life was in danger. He subsequently stood trial for fraud in 2009 and was jailed for six years.
Page is now out of prison and trying to train as a probation officer working with ex-offenders. He has apologised to all his victims, and told his full story in For Queen and Currency because he wanted the truth about life as a so-called elite guard at Buckingham Palace to come out. “No Old Bill have ever admitted to what we’ve done,” he said. “The Queen is going to be mightily pissed off.
Page’s allegations about palace life were laid out in a detailed defence document at his trial which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dismissed as “irrelevant” as it did not address the criminal case of fraud against him. However, neither the CPS or Scotland Yard ever claimed that Page’s allegations were false. At his trial, a number of serving and retired protection officers called as prosecution witnesses against Page confirmed under cross-examination many of his claims about palace culture.
Yet after Page was jailed in 2009, Scotland Yard said there would be no investigation of the royalty protection command because the allegations aired at trial were all “historic”. However, last year, following the scandal over a Tory minister calling a guard a “fucking pleb”, a root-and-branch reform was announced to tackle an “unacceptable culture” that had built up within the squad.