Plot to assassinate the Queen in 1983 by a man seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter in Northern Ireland
According to newly released FBI files, Queen Elizabeth II faced a possible assassination plot by Irish nationalist sympathizers during a visit to the United States in 1983.
The documents, which reveal how authorities had braced themselves for repeated threats from supporters of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), were revealed as a result of FOI requests filed after the Queen’s death in September last year.
The potential death threat was uncovered the night before the late Queen’s scheduled arrival in San Francisco, when a police officer warned federal agents of a possible attack.
An attempt was made to throw “an object” off the Golden Gate Bridge while the royal yacht Britannia was sailing beneath it.
It is part of a major release of more than 100 pages of documents related to the late monarch that were sent to the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act following her death in September last year.
What did the FBI documents reveal?
An assassination attempt against Queen Elizabeth II was foiled the night before her arrival in the US in 1983;
The FBI warned it was “very difficult” to avoid events that would “embarrass” the Queen during the trip;
There were also warnings of an attack by IRA sympathizers during a visit in 1981;
The FBI assessed the threat to the British royal family from the IRA as “ubiquitous”.
Queen Elizabeth II toasts former US President Ronald Reagan at a banquet in San Francisco in 1983
The potential death threat was uncovered the night before the late Queen’s scheduled arrival in San Francisco in 1983
Queen Elizabeth II’s yacht Britannia passes under the Golden Gate Bridge during her 1983 trip to California
The police officer who tipped off the authorities regularly drank in an Irish pub and told agents about an IRA sympathizer who wanted revenge for his daughter’s death.
This was followed by a call he received in February from a man he knew from the pub claiming his daughter had been killed by a rubber bullet in Northern Ireland.
That call came about a month before then-President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan hosted the 57-year-old Queen and Prince Philip in California.
Official documents show the man told the officer he planned to “harm” the late Queen by either dropping “an object” from the Golden Gate Bridge or otherwise attempting to hit her during a visit to kill in Yosemite National Park.
The assassination memo said: “This man also claimed that he would attempt to harm Queen Elizabeth and would do so by either dropping an object from the Golden Gate Bridge onto the royal yacht Britannia sailing beneath it, or it tried to kill Queen Elizabeth while she was visiting Yosemite National Park.
The documents show that the man in question had previously been involved in a police investigation. He has been described as “generally cooperative” although he makes no secret of his sympathy for the IRA. [sic].
The documents also show that prior to the visit, FBI agents had warned: “It will be very difficult to anticipate and prevent incidents that could embarrass either the Queen or the President.”
While it may have been the greatest threat, it wasn’t the first time the FBI had warned of possible attacks on Her Majesty.
Two years earlier, the FBI warned of a “potential attack” against Elizabeth II when she visited US cities with strong Irish connections, including Boston and New York.
Another document from 1989 states: “The possibility of threats against the British monarchy from the Irish Republican Army is present at any time.”
It added: “Boston and New York are asked to be alert to threats by IRA members against Queen Elizabeth II and to report them immediately to Louisville.”
The police officer who tipped off the authorities regularly drank in an Irish pub and told agents about an IRA sympathizer who wanted revenge for his daughter’s death
Queen Elizabeth II (right) and Prince Philip (second from left) in Yosemite National Park in 1983, the second location the sympathizer mentioned as a possible assassination site
Queen Elizabeth II visits the Hewlett Packard factory in California on March 3, 1983
Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Institute of Oceanography in San Diego in 1983
The Queen arrives in Santa Barbara, California in 1983
The documents also show that prior to the 1983 visit, FBI agents warned: “It will be very difficult to foresee and prevent incidents that may embarrass either the Queen or the President.”
The 1983 attack was far from the only assassination plot the Queen (second from left, pictured in California in 1983) survived
The suspected assassin had planned to drop “an object” from the Golden Gate Bridge while Queen Elizabeth’s ship passed under it
And in 1976, a pilot in New York was called by police to prevent him from flying a banner that read “England Get Out of Ireland” while Elizabeth II was in town.
The frequent concerns of US authorities and the royal family themselves were by no means unfounded – in 1979, Lord Mountbatten, Elizabeth II’s second cousin, was assassinated in an IRA bombing.
He and three others died after his fishing vessel was filled with explosives, which later detonated.
The other victims were Mountbatten’s grandson, Nicholas Knatchbull, crewman Paul Maxwell, and Nicholas’ paternal grandmother, Doreen, widow of Lady Brabourne.
There have also been previous assassination attempts against the Queen, making the IRA threat even greater.
In 1981, a New Zealand teenager pointed a gun at Her Majesty as she was getting out of a car.
Christopher John Lewis fired a rifle during the Queen’s tour of the country but missed. But he soon became obsessed with the idea of wiping out the royal family.
Two years later, he tried to overpower the guards at a psychiatric hospital where he was being held to kill Prince Charles, who was in New Zealand with Princess Diana and Prince William.
Lord Louis Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979, killing him and three others
Lord Mountbatten was killed after explosives detonated on his boat (pictured, – Stock Image)
In the same year, an anti-royal extremist shot the Queen six times with blanks during the Trooping of the Color.
She survived the attempt of 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant again unharmed.
He was later sentenced to five years in prison for terrorist offenses, but only served three years – during which time he wrote to Elizabeth II apologizing for his actions.
And in 1970 A conspiracy has been uncovered in Australia After the train she and Prince Philip were traveling on hit a log on the track.
Luckily, the train driver noticed the log and slowed down enough to keep the train from derailing, but former Detective Inspector Cliff McHardy said in 2009 that his investigation revealed the log was posted on purpose.
If the train driver had not seen the protocol, the train could have derailed and the royal couple could have fallen down a deep embankment.