The Queen's trip to California came during the Troubles, the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland where more than 3,500 people were killed
The FBI was aware of frightening threats against Queen Elizabeth during her tour of California 40 years ago.
For the first time, recently declassified documents reveal that the federal law enforcement agency was aware of assassination threats against Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the U.S. with Prince Philip in 1983. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were invited by then-President Ronald Reagan to see his home state, and authorities learned a few weeks before that an alleged sympathizer of the Irish Republican Army wished to do her harm. The royal couple arrived on the Royal Yacht Britannia on February 26 and spent a week exploring the best of California, The New York Times reported at the time.
In FBI files seen by PEOPLE, in February 1983, a San Francisco Police Department officer was contacted by another officer who "is a regular patron and regular acquainted with [an unidentified patron] of the Dovre Club. (The Dovre Club has a popular reputation as a "republican bar" that is frequented by sympathizers with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).)”
According to the report, the unidentified patron told the latter officer that his daughter “had been killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet” and that he planned to harm the British monarch.
“This man additionally claimed he was going to attempt to harm Queen Elizabeth and would do this either by dropping some object off the Golden Gate Bridge when it sails underneath or would attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth when she visited Yosemite National Park,” the documents state, noting that the Secret Service planned to close the walkways on the Golden Gate Bridge when the ship neared.
The files added that authorities planned to contact the patron, “who has been interviewed in PIRA cases and has been generally cooperative, although he makes no secret of his sympathies for the IRA.”
The royal visit to the U.S. came during the Troubles, the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland that divided unionists and nationalists over whether Northern Ireland should stay within the U.K. or join the Republic of Ireland, the BBC reported. Groups from both sides like the IRA and Ulster Volunteer Force carried out attacks, and British troops were deployed to Northern Ireland.
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Over 3,500 people were killed in related violence during the years-long conflict, including Prince Philip’s uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was assassinated by an IRA bomb in 1979. The Troubles came to a close when the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998.
Despite the threat, the FBI reported that Queen Elizabeth’s visit to California wrapped “without incident,” and the case was closed.
Elsewhere in the extensive file, before the Queen visited Kentucky in 1989, the FBI noted that “the possibility of threats against the British monarchy is everpresent from the Irish Republican Army.” Two years later, in 1991, the federal law enforcement agency was on alert for protests when she attended a Baltimore Orioles game with President George H.W. Bush.
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