FBI records reveal ‘ever-present’ threats to Queen Elizabeth II by the IRA
Newly released FBI files show the bureau was concerned about “ever-present” threats to Queen Elizabeth II by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during visits to the US.
A memo warning agents in Boston and New York to remain “alert for any threats” ahead of a 1989 visit to the east coast was among 102 pages of records released about the late Queen.
Other details include a police tip-off about a threat from an IRA sympathiser who wanted revenge for the death of his daughter.
The officer who provided the information claimed that a month before Ronald and Nancy Reagan hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1983, he received a phone call from a man he knew from an Irish pub.
According to the memo, the man said his daughter had been killed by a rubber bullet in Northern Ireland.
“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 confidential file states.
The documents show FBI agents routinely shared intelligence and preparations with the US Secret Service about the IRA and its sympathisers during royal visits.
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The FBI’s concerns about potential IRA violence against members of the Royal Family were not unfounded. In 1979, Queen Elizabeth’s second cousin, Lord “Dickie” Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bombing in Ireland.
During a 1991 visit when the late Queen and President George Bush planned to attend a Baltimore Orioles baseball game by helicopter, FBI agents shared intelligence with the Secret Service that “Irish groups” were planning protests at Memorial Stadium.
A memo cites an article published in the Philadelphia Irish Newspaper that stated “anti-British feelings” were running high due to “injustices inflicted on the Birmingham Six”.
It refers to six Irishmen who were wrongfully sent to prison for the IRA bombing of two pubs in Birmingham. Their convictions were overturned a few months before the royal visit.
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The FBI file stated the article contained no direct threats but its contents “could be viewed as being inflammatory,” and that “an Irish group had reserved a large block of grandstand tickets” to the game.
The records were released following a freedom of information request submitted after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on 8 September.