A fascinating new study on the types of people who stalk or harass the British Royal Family has just been published online by the journal Psychological Medicine.
A group of forensic psychologists examined, by hand, twenty thousand files held by SO14, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Royalty Protection unit, to study people who had made inappropriate approaches or communications with the British royals.
This is the classification of harassers and stalkers by motivation:
Delusions of Royal Identity (i.e. pretenders to the throne or to royal kinship). This was the largest group, accounting for 67 cases (26.9%). Seventeen (6.8%) expressed delusional beliefs that they were the true sovereign. This group often wrote lengthy letters accompanied by family trees and multiple annotated documents in support of their claims. Claims of kinship to the sovereign were made by a further 50 (20.1% of the whole sample). There was often evidence in their writings of complex delusional systems.
Amity Seekers were the 41 (16.5%) subjects who offered their friendship and advice, which they expected to be taken, apparently oblivious to the unrealistic nature of their endeavour.
The Intimacy Seekers consisted of 30 (12%) individuals. Fourteen (5.6%) had clearly erotomanic preoccupations, 10 of whom were male. All expressed the conviction that they were loved by or already married to their royal target. Those who were infatuated but not clearly erotomanic (16; 6.4%) usually wished to express their love or offer their hand in marriage to a royal. They understood that the royal personage did not yet love them or even know of their existence, but they still expressed confidence that they would succeed in their suit.
Sanctuary and Help Seekers made up 22 (8.8%) of the sample and were asking for royal assistance with personal adversity or royal protection from supposed persecutors.
The Royally Persecuted were a small group of only eight (3.2%) subjects, who claimed to be victims of organized persecution orchestrated by a member of the Royal Family.
Counsellors who, though similar in some ways to the Amity Seekers, were a group of 28 (11.2%) individuals who saw it as their role to offer advice and opinions to the Royal Family on how they should live their lives and respond to political situations.
Querulants formed a group of 16 (6.4%) people who were pursuing a highly personalized quest for justice and vindication. They were seeking royal assistance with their claims, or complaining of royal indifference to their cause.
The Chaotic comprised a group of 37 cases (14.9%), where no clear motivation could be assigned because their writings and/or their statements to police were so difficult to follow or understand. It was not that there was insufficient information to assign another category. Rather, their thought processes and behaviour were so disturbed as to make a singularity of purpose unlikely.
The most famous stalker of the British Royal Family was probably Klaus Wagner, a German ex-doctor who believed that the Queen was the beast prophesised in Revelations and that Princess Diana was being persecuted by the Royal Family.
He was eventually sent to jail for stalking Diana, and apparently remained on his quest to defeat the ‘Elizardbeast’ until his death in 2007.
Wagner came to prominence in a controversial UK TV documentary called I’m Your Number One Fan that featured three stalkers of high profile celebrities. It used to be available on the net but has since disappeared, although occasionally turns up on torrent servers.
Interestingly, one of the first cases of what we now call erotomania or de Cl√©rambault’s syndrome, the delusional belief that another person – usually of higher status – is in love with you, featured the British Royal Family.
de Cl√©rambault described the case of a 53 year old French woman who believed King George V was in love with her and would interpret twitches in the curtains of Buckingham Palace as secret love signals from the monarch.