On Tuesday, 7th March, 1876, Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice visited Whitechapel in order to open a new wing at the London Hospital on Whitechapel Road.
According to The Illustrated London News, “It was a high festival for the East End”, and the route that the Royal cortege was due to take was lavishly decorated.
“At the City boundary,” The Illustrated London News continued, “a large triumphal arch, forty feet high, spanning the roadway, had been erected. It was handsomely decorated with flags, and bore on the Aldgate side the inscription, “Welcome to our Queen,” and on the Whitechapel side, God be with you.”
Over the next few days, the newspapers were unanimous in telling their readers that the Queen’s visit to the East End had been a terrific success, and those who came to witness the Royal procession had enjoyed themselves immensely.
All that is, except for one man, whose experience of the day was reported by The Edinburgh Evening News on Friday, 10th March 1876:-
ALLEGED OUTRAGE BY POLICEMAN
A gentleman, said to be a colonial broker in Mincing Lane, and whose face showed signs of very severe treatment, applied at the Guildhall yesterday for a summons against a constable of the Metropolitan Police.
He said that on Tuesday he went into Whitechapel for the purpose of seeing the decorations, and, after the royal procession had passed, he wished to return.
THE ASSAULT TAKES PLACE
Near the triumphal arch at the end of Aldgate, a row of policemen stretched across the road, and he asked to be allowed to pass.
The constable refused, and, on his asking the reason said, “Oh, I will soon show you why,” pushing him into the arms of two other policemen.
Whilst he was surrounded by half a dozen constables, one of their number reaching over the others struck him a severe blow on the eye, from which the blood poured out.
He then endeavoured to conceal his number, but without success.
Mr Alderman asked the complainant whether he had used any force in attempting to pass.
The complainant said that he had not, but that he had simply courteously asked the constable to allow him to pass.
There were two gentlemen present who had witnessed the assault.
The summons was granted.”
ALLEGED ASSAULT BY A LONDON POLICEMAN
The Edinburgh Evening News provided an update on the case in its edition of Tuesday, 28th March 1876:-
“At the London Guildhall, yesterday, James Bugg 450 E, Metropolitan Police, was charged with violently assaulting Mr. W. Palmer on the occasion of the Queen’s visit to Whitechapel.
The complainant identified the defendant to the best of his belief. He was sure there was a “50” in the number of the policeman who struck him.
It transpired that when the constables were paraded for identification the defendant was in the uniform of another constable.
Two other witnesses positively swore that it was “450 E ” who struck Mr Palmer.
Sir W. Rose dismissed the charge.”