“Prince Philip killed my wife,” Sixty-six year old pensioner Len Crickler yesterday claimed in Harwich Crown Court, whilst on trial for his wife’s murder. “I saw him with my own eyes, standing over her with a pillow, an evil leer on his lips!” Although easily dismissed as a desperate ploy to deflect guilt away from himself, Crickler’s witness-box accusation is simply the latest in a string of criminal allegations levelled at the Duke of Edinburgh in recent months. “It seems that the Prince is at the centre of a massive criminal conspiracy covering the whole of Britain – and possibly reaching overseas,” says leading conspiracy theorist Simon Tivcock. “However, the lack of hard facts and conclusive evidence is worrying – it all points to a massive cover-up by the authorities.” Indeed, Crickler’s claim is typical in this respect, relying entirely upon the testimony of a single eyewitness. “I hadn’t been able to sleep, so I went down to the kitchen to make a cup of Ovaltine, when I got back the bedroom there he was – suffocating my Edna,” he told the Court, alleging that the Prince had simply laughed when he had challenged him. “It was an evil cackle, it chilled me to the bone! I was so shocked that I couldn’t move to stop him as he pushed past me and ran down the stairs.” However, Crickler claimed that he snapped out of his shock in time to look out of the window and see the Duke run down the garden path and leap into a chauffer-driven Daimler, which had been idling at the kerb outside the house. “On his way down the path the bastard even stopped to kick over my raspberry canes and stamp on my prize marrow,” recalled the retired chicken sexer. “Once he was in the car, it sped off into the night.” Sadly, due to the late hour, there were no witnesses to the Prince’s fast getaway. Furthermore, when the police arrived, in response to Crickler’s distraught emergency call, they could find no evidence of the Prince’s presence in the house. “The only fingerprints in the bedroom were mine and Edna’s,” he conceded under cross-examination . “They even reckoned that the footprint he’d left in my vegetable patch matched my boots. It was if he was never there!” Rejecting prosecutor Quentin Harvard-Ponce QC’s rejection of his defence as ‘pure fantasy’ and ‘absurd’, Crickler and his defence counsel maintain that he is the victim of an elaborate ‘frame up’ engineered by the authorities.

Already this year Prince Philip has been accused of at least six murders, over twenty burglaries, three muggings, two bank robberies, indecent exposure in a Royal Park, urinating in a dustbin and chasing an old lady’s cat up a tree. No charges have been brought against him in relation to any of these allegations. But what possible motive could the Queen’s consort have for committing apparently random criminal acts? When challenged on this point under cross-examination, Mr Crickler replied by asking what his motive had been for killing Princess Diana. “I mean, she was already divorced from Prince Charles, so she weren’t any real threat to the Monarchy, was she? I know she was carrying on with a darkie, but nobody seems to care these days,” he told a horrified Court. “Mind you, you’d think he’d get the Secret Service to do it for him, but my mate Bernie swears his cousin knows a bloke who was on holiday in Paris the day she died and saw Prince Philip underneath the Mercedes, tampering with the brakes, just hours before the accident!” Looking aghast, the jury also heard that, according to another of Mr Crickler’s mates, it was an ‘open secret’ that the Duke had also been responsible for the deaths of his both his mother-in-law and his sister-in-law. “Of course, in the cases of both the Queen Mum and Princess Margaret, they were mercy killings, to put them out of their misery. The old dear was well past it – completely incontinent and ga ga – and Princess Margaret wasn’t much better, pissed out her mind and her liver wrecked,” he testified. “It was getting embarrassing, them pissing all over the furniture at the Palace, especially when they had visitors. They couldn’t keep blaming it on the corgis.” Significantly, Crickler claimed that the Duke smothered both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret with pillows, the same method he allegedly used to murder Mrs Crickler. “I think that because he got away with those three murders, he’s gone kill-crazy,” speculated the pensioner. “He knows the authorities will cover up for him – look how quick they were to rule Diana’s death an accident, despite all the evidence to the contrary!” Tivcock believes that Crickler could be on to something with his claims that the Prince is a ‘thrill killer’. “There’s no doubt that the frequency of his crimes have increased since the ban on hunting with dogs,” the conspiracist says. “It must have left a huge void in the Duke’s life and it seems pretty clear that he’s turned to crime for the adrenaline rush. We shouldn’t be surprised that such an avid supporter of blood sports as Prince Philip would take so easily to murder – isn’t man said to be the biggest game of all?”

But why did Crickler wait until his trial to sensationally accuse a member of the Royal family of murder? According to the pensioner, he was intimidated into withholding his evidence by a senior government figure whilst he was being held on remand in Strangeways Prison. “I was in the showers, soaping myself down, when I felt this presence behind me – I turned round to find myself confronted by a large naked man holding a big bar of soap in a menacing fashion,” he claimed. “I had shampoo in my eyes, so I couldn’t see his face clearly, but I heard him growl at me in a Scottish burr that if I didn’t keep my mouth shut about the Duke, I’d find myself having a very nasty accident. When I wiped my eyes, I was astonished to see the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown standing starkers in front of me, glistening with soapy water and staring at my arse!” Simon Tivcock has claimed that another witness to one of the Prince’s violent offences was similarly intimidated into withdrawing their statement. “A man in Walsall originally told the police that he’d seen Prince Philip ride up to a bus-stop on a horse, blowing a hunting horn, before opening fire with a double barrelled shotgun on the people queuing there,” he explains. “But he withdrew the statement after being attacked on the street by a posh woman wearing a headscarf. Apparently she beat him with a riding crop and threatened to castrate him if he didn’t forget what he’d seen. As he lay bleeding in the gutter, he saw her get into a gold-coloured horse-drawn carriage which galloped off down the street.” The police subsequently classified the attack on the bus-stop as a gang-related drive-by shooting. Fears of a top-level conspiracy to cover-up the Duke’s crimes was fuelled by the announcement that Crickler’s defence counsel – Rupert Winstanleigh-Todger QC – was no longer planning to call Prince Philip as a witness following consultations with the trial judge, His Honour Judge Julian Fruitnutt. Indeed, the judge had earlier warned both Mr Crickler and his counsel that they could face further charges for perjury and be held in contempt if they continue with this line of defence. He denied that either this decision or his pronounced limp had any connection with the visit to his chambers by Justice Secretary Jack Straw and a length of lead piping.