FBI feared IRA attacks against Queen Elizabeth II on US trips
Behind the scenes at the Royal Coronation Concert
FBI agents feared the late Queen Elizabeth II would be a target for an attack during her visits to the US. Newly-released files revealed a threat was made when Her late Majesty’s visited California in 1983.
The Bureau received a tip-off from a San Francisco city police officer ahead of the trip, claiming a man had voiced a desire to kill her for revenge, reports The Daily Express US. A patron of a local Irish pub had phoned the offer to inform him the man had “claimed his daughter had been killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet”.
The man “additionally claimed that he was going to attempt to harm Queen Elizabeth and would do this either by dropping some object off the Golden Gate Bridge onto the royal yacht Britannia when it sails underneath or would attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth when she visited Yosemite National Park.”
FBI agents were warned by the San Francisco PD they would be unable to “anticipate and prevent incidents which may embarrass either the Queen or the president”.
Details of the threat are included in more than 100 pages of files released by the FBI on The Vault, a public website where it routinely publishes documents of widespread interest.
Dating back as early as 1976, the records contain details of the Queen’s US trips. from behind-the-scene communications to memos and press clippings relating to the visits.
The San Francisco plot did not develop into an actual threat but reveals the constant threat of the IRA and its sympathizers toward Her Majesty. The Irish paramilitary group created in the 1960s ran an often-violent campaign to remove British forces from Northern Ireland for decades.
Information was regularly shared between the FBI and the Secret Service as well as local police ahead of a visit from the Queen to warn them any potential disruption of threat.
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During Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Battery Park, in New York, for the Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, one of the memos shows a New York police officer reporting a pilot had been issued with a summon to stop him from flying a plane carrying the banner: “England, Get out of Ireland.”
The late Queen was no stranger to the IRA threat, with the paramilitary group known to have hatched multiple plots to murder her during her 70-year reign as well as having killed of her second cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in 1979.
Lord Mountbatten had been holidaying in Ireland with his family when his boat was loaded with explosives and blown up. He died alongside grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, crew member Paul Maxwell, 15, and Nicholas’ paternal grandmother Doreen, Dowager Lady Brabourne.
In 1981, the FBI warned about potential attacks during Her late Majesty’s visit to Boston and New York as “the possibility of threats against the British Monarchy is everpresent from the Irish Republican Army (IRA)”.
The memo read: “Boston and New York are requested to remain alert for any threats against Queen Elizabeth II on the part of IRA members and immediately furnish same to Louisville.” The Secret Service was also warned that “Irish groups” were planning to protest when George Bush Sr hosted the Queen at Memorial Stadium.
The Bureau cited “anti-British feelings are running high as a result of well-publicized injustices inflicted on the Birmingham Six by the corrupt English judicial system and the recent rash of brutal murders of unarmed Irish nationalists in the six counties by Loyalists death squads.”
The Birmingham Six were a group of young Irishmen convicted in 1976 for bombing two pubs in Birmingham, England. Their sentences had only been overturned a few months before the Queen’s visit in 1991.
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