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'Tantalizing' of Palace Guards in London Deplored

February 16, 1988|Associated Press

LONDON — Tourists are harassing the uniformed sentries at St. James's Palace, according to lawmakers who want the government to do something about it.

"I have quite often seen pretty girls putting their arms around soldiers on duty outside St. James's Palace, while their friends take teasing photographs of them," said legislator Harry Greenway.

"Sometimes they hug the soldiers round the neck and squeeze them. It requires the patience of Job for a young soldier not to react angrily--or indeed in any other way," he said.

At Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II's official residence, sentries were moved in the 1960s from outside the gates to the courtyard, where the public cannot enter, after one soldier got fed up with being pestered and banged the butt of his rifle on a woman's foot.

But there's no courtyard at St. James's Palace, which houses court officials and is less famous, and tourists can touch the sentries there, if they dare.

Greenway and John Biggs-Davison said they will raise the matter in Parliament. Biggs-Davison said he will ask Home Secretary Douglas Hurd for a police report on steps being taken to stop sentries being "tantalized."

"It is very unfair that soldiers have to endure these unpleasant attentions without in any way responding and it is not good for the dignity of royalty or, for that matter, the army," Biggs-Davison said.

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