Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II faced a potential assassination threat 40 years ago ahead of a trip to the United States, according to newly released FBI documents.
The 103-page cache was published on the FBI’s website, Storage, on Tuesday. The files cover preparations for several of the late Queen’s trips to the US, including an official tour of the West Coast with her husband, Prince Philip, in 1983.
One document appears to detail information gathered about a month before that San Francisco police visit regarding a phone call from “a man who claimed his daughter had been killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet.”
It continued: “This man also claimed that he intended to harm Queen Elizabeth and would do so either by throwing an object from the Golden Gate Bridge onto the Royal Yacht Britannia as she passed under it, or by attempting to kill Queen Elizabeth when she visited Yosemite National Park.” .
The same document notes that “the Secret Service intends to close the lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge as the yacht approaches.” There is no mention of any precautions that may have been taken in the national park, and the files do not indicate whether any arrests were made.
The files illustrate the FBI’s heightened vigilance over possible threats to the British monarch, cooperation with the US Secret Service and concerns about the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its supporters during royal visits.
The Queen’s cousin, Louis Mountbatten, was killed by the Provisional IRA in 1979 with a bomb planted in his fishing boat. As a result of the explosion, three others died, including two children. Many of the Queen’s trips to the US took place during the turmoil in Northern Ireland, and documents show that the FBI closely monitored the preparations for royal visits over the years.
Ahead of a private visit to Kentucky in 1989, one document noted that while the FBI was not aware of any specific threats to the Queen, “the possibility of threats to the British monarchy from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) always exists.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Bay Area in 1983
Elsewhere in the files, a document preparing for the Queen’s state visit in 1991 expressed concern about Irish groups organizing protests at several scheduled events, including a baseball game the monarch was due to attend and an event at the White House. Citing information printed in a Philadelphia Irish newspaper called the Irish Edition, the page stated: “The article claimed that anti-British sentiment
builds on the highly publicized injustice meted out to the Birmingham Six by the corrupt English judiciary and the recent spate of brutal killings of unarmed Irish nationalists in the Six Counties by loyalist death squads.’
It added: “Although the article did not contain threats against the President or the Queen, the statements could be considered inflammatory. The article claimed that the Irish group had reserved a large number of grandstand tickets.’
Another document in the file, dated July 1976, mentions the Queen traveling across the Atlantic to help celebrate America’s bicentennial, stopping in Philadelphia, Washington and New York.
During that trip, the FBI document shows, the pilot was issued a summons for flying a small two-seater plane over Battery Park with the words “England, Out of Ireland” written on it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The video above includes footage from the Queen’s 1983 visit to Yosemite National Park.