A trove of documents released this week by the FBI reveal details of an assassination threat against Queen Elizabeth II before a trip she and her husband made to the United States in 1983, as well as other security concerns linked to the Irish Republican Army.
The documents were released on the FBI’s website following a Freedom of Information Act request. The Queen, who was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died in September.
The plot to kill the queen was shared with a San Francisco police officer in early February 1983, weeks before she and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were due to visit the United States, the documents show. Specific names and other details have been removed from the report.
The unidentified officer said he had received a phone call on February 4, 1983, from a man who claimed his daughter had been killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet. The officer visited an Irish pub called the Dovre Club, which the FBI described as a meeting place for Irish Republican Army sympathizers.
The 1983 visit, like some of the Queen’s other trips to the US, took place during the 30-year sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. Around 3,600 people were killed during that period when Britain deployed its military to the Protestant enclave to confront groups, including the IRA, that wanted to reunite Northern Ireland with the rest of Ireland.
The man in the phone call shared plans to harm the queen by either “throwing an object from the Golden Gate Bridge onto the royal yacht Britannia” as it sailed below, or try to kill her during a visit to Yosemite National Park, the documents said. Specific details of how either plot would have been achieved were not given.
Officials noted that the Secret Service intended to close the walkways of the Golden Gate Bridge when the yacht was nearby. While it is unclear if any arrests were made, the documents note that the monarch’s visit ended “without incident.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.
The New York Times covered the Queen’s West Coast tour at the time, describing it as a glittering affair punctuated by a visit to President Ronald Reagan’s California ranch. It was reported that bad weather had forced the royal couple to fly instead of sailing into the Bay Area, although they attended a portside celebration.
The Queen said her time on the West Coast was “a wonderful and enjoyable journey.”
Security concerns about some of the Queen’s other visits to the US were also detailed in the documents. Before her trip to Kentucky in 1989, the FBI said it was not aware of any specific threats against the monarch, but noted that “the possibility of threats against the British monarchy is always present from the Irish Republican Army.”
During another trip, in 1991, the Queen attended a Baltimore Orioles game with President George Bush. FBI officials took note of a letter published in an Irish newspaper in Philadelphia before the trip.
Officials said Irish groups planned to protest the Queen at the baseball game and that an Irish group had reserved a large block of tickets.
According to The Times, the Queen and others sat that night in the glass-fronted box reserved for the team’s owner. After greeting the players and before taking her seat, the Queen waved to the audience, who erupted into cheers and applause.