Newly released documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II faced a potential assassination threat 40 years ago, ahead of a trip to the United States.
A cache of 103 pages were posted to the FBI’s online records site, The Vault, this week, that cover preparations for several trips the late Queen made to the US, including an official tour of the West Coast with her husband, Prince Philip, in 1983.
A document appears to show a tip gathered around a month before that visit from San Francisco police regarding a phone call from “a man who claimed that his daughter had been killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet.”
It continues: “This 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.”
The same document notes that “it is the intention of the Secret Service to close the walkways on the Golden Gate Bridge when the yacht nears.”
The files illustrate how much the FBI showed vigilance at possible threats to the visiting British monarch in collaboration with the US Secret Service amid concerns about threats from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its sympathizers during royal visits.
It should be remembered that the Queen’s cousin, Louis Mountbatten, was assassinated by the Provisional IRA in 1979, using a bomb planted in his fishing boat. Three others died in the same explosion, including two children.
Ahead of a private visit to Kentucky in 1989, one FBI document notes that while the FBI was unaware of any specific threats to the Queen, “the possibility of threats against the British monarchy is everpresent from the Irish Republican Army (IRA).”
Also in the files, a document preparing for the Queen’s state visit in 1991 outlines concern about Irish groups organizing protests at several scheduled engagements, including a baseball game the monarch was due to attend and a White House event.
Another document in the file, dated July 1976, mentioned an occasion when the Queen traveled back across the Atlantic to help mark America’s bicentennial celebrations, with stops including Philadelphia, Washington and New York.
During that trip, the FBI documents reveal there was a summons issued to a pilot for flying a small two-seater plane over Battery Park, carrying a sign that read “England, Get out of Ireland.”