Man Arrested Near Qeen’s Luncheon
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Police arrested a man with an eight-inch kitchen knife strapped to his leg today as he tried to talk his way into a convention center where Queen Elizabeth II was due to have lunch.
The man, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, told police he was from the elite Special Air Services as he tried to get through their security cordon. They arrested him because he ``looked suspicious,″ police Superintendent Donald Graham said.
Detective Inspector Terence Dalton of the Sydney police had earlier said the suspect, Gregory Philip Pailthorpe, was carrying a ``small box with wires coming from it,″ describing it as a ``crude″ explosive device. But in a press release later, police said, ``it was clearly not an explosive device.″
Pailthorpe, 39, a resident of Sydney, appeared in court today, charged with unlawfully possessing a knife in a public place and possession of cannabis.
Magistrate Kim Pogson ordered him to undergo a psychiatric assessment before reappearing in court Tuesday.
Pailthorpe’s lawyer, Simon Bleasel, told the court that his client did not intend to harm the Queen, but planned to plead guilty to the charges.
``His intention was protecting the Queen at all times, not harming her in any way,″ Bleasel said. He also told the court Pailthorpe suffers from a nervous disorder that requires medication. He did not elaborate.
The arrest occurred just before the queen was given a warm official welcome on the steps of Sydney’s landmark Opera House, on the first full day of her 13th trip to Australia and the first since Australians voted last year to keep her as their head of state.
Dressed in a lime-green coat with matching skirt and hat, the queen was greeted by her representative, Gov.-general Sir William Deane and Prime Minister John Howard.
About 3,000 people crowded the Opera House steps and forecourt in heavy rain to cheer the queen, who smiled and waved in return.
The queen and Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh later attended a state lunch at the convention center with Howard, a monarchist whose low-key campaigning before November’s referendum helped seal victory for the queen’s supporters.
Commenting on the vote, the queen said in a speech to a room full of invited dignitaries that she accepted and respected the outcome.
``I shall continue faithfully to serve as Queen of Australia ... to the very best of my ability,″ she said.
In her speech, however, the queen appeared to acknowledge that her days as Australia’s ruler may be numbered.
``Whatever the future may bring, my lasting respect and deep affection for Australia and Australians everywhere will remain as strong as ever,″ she said.
Opinion polls show most Australians want a homegrown head of state, but cannot agree on how to choose one. Republicans say this is the main reason for the failure of the referendum to cut ties with the monarchy and make Australia into a republic.