Monday, 25 March 2013 23:21

Kate Middleton, Prince William security guy: Bored more to Broadmoor

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kate-pippa I called him "Purple Shirt Man" until a few days ago.

The little Royalings are said to be "surprised and upset."

Awww, not again!

Kate Middleton and Prince William are about to lose the man with the bespoke purple shirt.

And purple tie!

How do I know that Purple Shirt Man’s purple shirt is bespoke?

Oh, you can just...tell.

By the way the muscles ripple underneath it, but the shirt doesn’t move!

Yes, John Hourihan stood out in a crowd to me because I am an American, so I notice if someone is wearing a purple shirt and tie. I usually think, "Hmmmm... is that guy in the purple shirt and tie British, by any chance?"

And if they are standing crisply to attention yet also exude a sense of being poised and ready to strike and eradicate any threat whatsoever, I usually think, " that guy a royal personal protection officer?

Hourihan, a 30-year Scotland Yard veteran, has a trim body, dashing demeanor, and a bangy, choppy haircut only his mother could love. But hey–hair is hair (when you reach a certain age)! Hourihan is also clearly an edgy, alert sort, eyes always darting about, a crowd-scanner par excellence, searching out stranger danger as Willy and Waity walked about. And visited beaches, and swam and lolled in luxury villas, sweated through orchid hothouses, swung around the trees in Borneo, showed off their water glasses, did something like a hula dance, paraded in a fake boat, and went on official thisses and thats. Hourihan was always there, always vigilant, keeping things safe. One could not imagine him allowing Prince Harry to be photographed naked.

But now, Purple Shirt Man is leaving!

Awww. Willy and Waity just can’t seem to keep good help.

Their bodyguard-in-chief, John Hourihan, just traded up (moneywise) to become chief of security for a slightly different group of eccentrics who also live in rarified conditions like the royals. Their place of residence is similar in many ways to Buckingham and Kensington Palaces–lots of guards about, difficult to get in and out without knowing somebody or having a good reason to be there, and many people visiting but not staying, and some people staying and never leaving.

And those who stay are kept very, very comfortable.

But Buckingham Palace it’s not. Hourihan is heading to be the head of Broadmoor Hospital, formerly known as the "Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum." The name was changed because words like "criminal" and "lunatic" and "asylum" were alarming to the local populace who live alongside this palace-sized red-brick, haute-Victorian multi-unit spread. Spreading out over 53 contained acres, Broadmoor looks bigger than Balmoral, if you deduct for the grouse moors, hills, mountains, deer playground and woodlands. If you just cast a giant security gate around the edifici Balmorali, and added a few turrets and colorful keep to Broadmoor, both compounds would look remarkably similar.

From a distance, of course.

So there’s no doubt that Chief Inspector John Hourihan will feel at home in his new job.

And having guarded Kate Middleton since 2008, even prior to her royal engagement and marriage to Prince William, Hourihan will undoubtedly be policing familiar territory because Broadmoor is located in Berkshire, an easy drive up the road from  Kate’s family’s home in Bucklebury.

Although Broadmoor specializes in treating violent psychotics far too dangerous and unpredictable to be released into a general mental hospital population (and has been a men only hospital since 2006), its website opens with the face of a lovely young blonde woman. Who is she, we wonder. Is she a visitor? The wife or daughter of a criminal lunatic...I mean, a patient in treatment? A nurse? A shrink? A physician? Does she work in the gift shop?  All we can see is that she is talking to a man whose back is to us, so we can’t read his expression, but we see that she is smiling, and appears angelic. Angelic, intelligent and relaxed.

So that is good!

They test the sirens every Monday morning at 10:00.

For ten long, ear-splitting minutes.

Broadmoor’s sirens are to alert the general population that one of the inmates...I mean, a patient in treatment, may have escaped. This stems back to the notorious escape of criminal...I mean, patient John Straffen, a petty thief who at age 12 strangled two geese, then at age 17 five chickens, at age 21 a five-year-old girl (he did this while walking to the cinema), and just a month later, a nine-year-old girl (he did this while taking the bus to the cinema). Straffen, who had suffered brain damage from encephalitis during a troubled childhood, had been in and out of mental hospitals so many times that he was found psychologically unfit for trial, and so was institutionalized at Broadmoor.

But doctors at Broadmoor found Straffen sufficiently psychologically fit to take a job as a cleaner.

And work really did set Straffen free.

Before the sirens came, the only thing separating the Broadmoor inmates from the nearby villages was a ten-foot wall. While cleaning a nearby building, Straffen enterprisingly scaled the eight-foot roof of a shed and then jumped over the wall to freedom. He headed to the nearby town of Crowthorne, where a lady spading in her garden gave him a drink of water while they chatted about the dangers of criminally insane "patients" escaping into the nearby general population. Thus refreshed, Straffen then hiked over to the hamlet of Farley Hill, where he encountered and strangled a five-year-old girl as she pedaled about on her bicycle. He then cajoled a village woman into making him a cup of tea, and driving him to the bus station. He likely would have begged her for bus fair as well, but at the station waiting for him were two male Broadmoor nurses claiming to be police officers. Straffen, apparently not so brain damaged or insane that he did not realize his dilemma, finally decided to genuinely escape, jumping out of the car and taking off on foot. The nurses apprehended Straffen and took him back over the ten-foot wall.

But it was only the next day that the police found the little bicycle girl’s body, and headed straight for Broadmoor. Although no details had yet been released, Straffen helpfully implicated himself by informing the real police, "I did not kill the little girl on the bicycle."

Although the police hauled him off to Brixton Prison and the Ministry of Health called an inquiry to discuss how Straffen had escaped, the nearby townsfolk held a meeting of their own, demanded that an unambiguous warning system be put into place, and so received the sirens. Straffen went on to serve out the rest of his life in real prisons, not mental hospitals.

But Broadmoor still became home to the most dangerous men in Britain. Or at least, the most dangerous men who’d been caught, and were deranged enough to warrant hospital rather than gaol. Notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper), who was convicted of killing 13 women and attempting to murder 7 others, now calls Broadmoor home after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Sutcliffe’s experiences are proof that security is a concern both in and out of Broadmoor. One fellow "patient," who attempted to strangle Sutcliffe with wires from a set of stereo headphones, was thwarted by two convicted murderers who heard Sutcliffe’s screams. A year later, another inmate tried to murder the Yorkshire Ripper by gouging out his eyes with a penknife. After almost a decade of relative calm, Sutcliffe was again attacked in Broadmoor by an inmate who stabbed him in the face with a metal cutlery knife.

Purple Shirt Man will likely find his life busier than usual at Broadmoor.

It will be a lot different than Pippa telephoning her sister to report a broken nail, or helping Waity decide whether the French manicure is the way to go, guarding her while she takes Lupo walkies, or scanning the store for shopgirls with cell phones when Waity waltzes into Zara. Stepping in to shield Waity’s backside from the cameras as her gossamer skirts billow up around her waist will soon be just a treasured memory.

Farewell, Purple Shirt Man!


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Bayoubuzz Staff

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