A WOMAN sparked a major security scare after being found wandering around Prince Andrew’s official residence after being mistakenly let in by guards.
Bungling security officers even paid for the intruder’s cab fare after she turned up at Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park, claiming to have a lunch appointment with the Duke of York.
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The intruder spent around 20 minutes walking around the gardens before going into the Grade II listed building, where Andrew was at home at the time.
She was eventually held in the lobby of Royal Lodge after asking a member of staff where Andrew was.
Police were called and the woman told them she was engaged to Prince Andrew and lived there with him, giving officers her name as Irene Windsor.
Maps of the Royal Lodge and other Royal Family residences were found in the woman’s handbag, along with a self-defence key ring in the shape of a cat with two sharp prongs.
She was arrested on suspicion of burglary and later sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
A security review is being carried out following the extraordinary ‘break-in.’
It raises questions over the decision to scale back Andrew’s police protection late last year as part of cost-cutting measures and his withdrawal from Royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
Andrew still has Met Police personal protection as the son of the monarch, though it is understood his officers are no longer routinely armed in line with other Royals and former Prime Ministers.
Private security at the Royal Lodge, where Andrew lives with ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, is provided by the Privy Purse, The Queen’s private income.
The smartly-dressed intruder, believed to be a Spanish national aged 44, turned up in a cab at Royal Lodge just after 11am on Monday.
It is understood the woman arrived in the UK from Spain on Saturday, the day of Prince Philip’s funeral three miles away at Windsor Castle.
Security at the castle and surrounding Royal buildings in the area was at high alert in the build-up and on the day of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Yet within 48 hours the woman was able to breeze through the front gate to Royal Lodge, seemingly without providing any proof of identification.
She even cheekily demanded one of the private security guards pay for her taxi, saying she had a lunch appointment with Andrew, whom she claimed to be a close friend of.
A source said: "She was apparently very smartly dressed, in suit trousers, a yellow blouse and peach jacket, and had her hair done up and full make-up.
"She cut quite a glamorous figure and the guards were completely taken in by her.
"The woman demanded they pay her cab fare as she was a close friend of Prince Andrew, and they obliged before helpfully pointing her on her way towards the Royal Lodge.
"They had no idea this woman was a total stranger to Andrew and seemingly had a fixation with him."
The source went on: "CCTV has been checked and it would appear the woman then spent around 20 minutes walking around the gardens and then going into the main house.
"She was very confident and walked around like she owned the place.
"The woman then went up to a member of staff and asked where Prince Andrew was.
"She was then asked who she was and what she was doing here.
"To the staff member’s shock, the woman then claimed to be engaged to Prince Andrew and said she was there to get married to him.
"She said that was the reason why she had flown over from Spain a couple of days earlier."
The source went on: "Security were called and held the woman there in the lobby.
"Police were then called and she was arrested on the spot and searched.
"By all accounts the woman had a map of the Royal Lodge and other Royal residences, including Buckingham Palace, in her handbag.
"She was also found to have a key-ring that was in the shape of a cat, which had spikes on it and could be used in self-defence.
"That potential weapon apparently caused the police some concern."
The source added: "It is being dealt with as a major security breach. Someone is for the high jump over this."
Prince Andrew and former wife Fergie have lived at the Royal Lodge since 2004. Before then the Queen Mother resided there until her death in 2002.
Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, who had a baby boy, August, in February, have been living at Royal Lodge during lockdown.
Sources said Andrew was at home at the time of the incident, though it is not known whether he was aware of it at the time.
Local Thames Valley Police officers attended and the woman was handcuffed and driven away.
It is understood the woman was later sectioned under the 1984 Mental Health Act, which legislates for people being detained for their protection and the safety of others.
Former Scotland Yard commander John O’ Connor said: "It is ridiculous that a woman who was apparently not in control of her mental faculties ever managed to get into the Royal Lodge.
"This exposes the soft underbelly of Royal security and it is those senior members of the Royal Family like Prince Andrew who are the most vulnerable.
"Because of cost-cutting measures, they do not have proper police protection and are therefore at risk."
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed a woman aged 44 had been detained under the Mental Health Act.
He said: "Thames Valley Police were called to the Royal Lodge at Windsor Great Park on Monday morning to reports of a female trespasser.
Other Royal scares
PRINCE Andrew’s security breach is the latest in a string of high-profile Royal safety scares.
Most infamously, in 1982 Michael Fagan scaled the Buckingham Palace walls and sat on the Queen’s bed as he told her of his troubles.
In 2013, Victor Miller climbed a 12ft fence to get into the Palace.
Yet another intruder broke into the Palace in 2019 as the Queen slept.
Months later, delivery driver Darren Benjamin — jailed for a torture plot — got within feet of Prince George at Kensington Palace.
And in 2003 comedy-terrorist Aaron Barschak gatecrashed Prince William’s 21st at Windsor Castle.
"The woman, aged 44, was intercepted and arrested. She was subsequently de-arrested and has been sectioned under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
"The investigation into the incident continues, but there was no risk to any individual on the site. Due to the female being sectioned, we will not be commenting further at this time."
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on security matters.
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