Prince Andrew challenged by police in palace gardens

LONDON - Britain's Prince Andrew said Sunday he had received an apology from police after jittery royal protection officers challenged him in the gardens of Buckingham Palace as they stepped up security following a break-in.

Police confirmed that two armed officers approached the Duke of York, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II, as he took an evening stroll on Wednesday at the monarch's official London residence.

"I am grateful for their apology and look forward to a safe walk in the garden in the future," Andrew said in a statement.

"The police have a difficult job to do balancing security for the royal family and deterring intruders, and sometimes they get it wrong."

London's Metropolitan Police denied a newspaper report that the officers had pointed guns at the 53-year-old duke, who is fifth in line to the British throne, and shouted at him to get down on the ground.

"On Wednesday, 4 September at approximately 1800 hours (1700 GMT) two uniformed officers approached a man in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to verify his identity," the spokesman said.

"The man was satisfactorily identified. No weapons were drawn and no force was used."

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the incident.

Prince Andrew is the ex-husband of Sarah Ferguson, whom he married in 1986, and they have two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Two days earlier, a man was arrested inside the palace in a major security breach. He had scaled a fence to get into the building in central London.

He was arrested for burglary, trespass and criminal damage, while a second man was arrested outside the palace on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Police said no members of the royal family were in the palace at the time.

The 87-year-old queen is currently on holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

The break-in represented one of the most serious security breaches at the palace since 1982 when unemployed Michael Fagan got inside the queen's private chambers while she was in bed.

Fagan spent 10 minutes talking to the queen after climbing over the palace walls and up a drainpipe before she was able to raise the alarm.