The Queen was almost shot by one of her own guardsman as she strolled palace grounds at 3am, it has emerged. The monarch does sometimes struggle to sleep and when bouts of insomnia strike, she often puts on a winter coat and takes a walk around the grounds.

According to reports, a guardsman came across the Queen in the early hours of the morning, asking: “Who’s that?” before he realised it was Her Royal Highness. He is said to have reacted with shock saying: “Bloody hell, Your Majesty. I nearly shot you.”

The Queen is understood to have taken the encounter in her stride, joking: “That’s quite all right. Next time I’ll ring through beforehand so you don’t have to shoot me.” Details of the incredible incident have just emerged, although it is understood that it happened a number of years ago in Buckingham Palace.

Prince Andrew

The Queen’s son Prince Andrew was also once mistaken for an intruder and fronted up by armed guards as he strolled in the grounds at Buckingham Palace. That incident in 2013 led to an apology from police, although they said that no weapons were drawn.

Royal expert Joe Little, who edits Majesty Magazine, said he would be taking the reports with a pinch of salt. However, he added that if it could happen to Prince Andrew, he saw no reason why it could not happen to the Queen. The Queen generally spends her working week at Buckingham Palace, travelling to Windsor Castle at the weekend. She usually has the winter months at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, and spends summer in Balmoral.

She is currently in Norfolk, where she is recovering from a heavy cold, so it is unlikely that she will be taking any night time strolls. She and her husband Prince Philip are said to have been resting inside for the better part of the last two weeks.