The FBI, the US national security agency, has published this week internal documents unknown until today that reveal a threat to attack Elizabeth II and her husband, Philip of Edinburgh, during their official visit to the United States in 1983. The agency has posted on its website The Vault (El Cofre) up to 102 pages of information, after various media requested it through the Freedom of Information Act. According to those records, the US authorities were especially alert to the possibility that the IRA terrorist organization, with thousands of supporters on the other side of the Atlantic, might try to attack the queen.
In a San Francisco bar regularly frequented at that time by many supporters of Irish republicanism, according to the documents, a man approached a plainclothes officer to tell him that the police had killed his daughter with a rubber bullet during the troubles. (trouble, or riot), the euphemism for the sectarian violence that plagued Northern Ireland for decades. The conversation took place on February 4, 1983, a month before the scheduled state visit to California.
The man, according to what the agent told the FBI, wanted to take his revenge with some kind of action against the British monarch and her husband. “He was going to try to harm Queen Elizabeth II, and he planned to do it right by throwing something off the Golden Gate Bridge. [que une por el norte la península de San Francisco con el condado de Marin] to the passing of the royal yacht Britannia [que la reina usaba entonces para sus viajes]well trying to assassinate Queen Elizabeth when she visited Yosemite National Park, ”says one of the documents.
The FBI took the threat seriously enough to plan “to close the pedestrian access to the bridge when the yacht was about to pass under it,” the new information says. It does not specify if this preventive measure was carried out, nor what were the precautions taken in Yosemite, where the queen and her husband finally went as planned.
The constant threat of the IRA
The tension that Northern Ireland was experiencing during this time put the IRA on the radar of the Western security services. The enormous number of supporters of republicanism that were and are in the United States—more than 30 million people claim their Irish ancestry, while the population of the island is only seven million—made Washington focus its security measures on this threat. on each official visit of Elizabeth II. During the United States Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, Elizabeth II went to New York. The documents revealed by the FBI say that a plane pilot was officially summoned before the judge, after flying over Battery Park with a huge banner that said “England, get out of Ireland.”
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During Elizabeth II’s regular visits to the State of Kentucky, to learn first-hand about the methods of breeding and training racehorses —her great hobby—, the US authorities activated alerts. In 1989, in the days leading up to one of those visits, it was noted, according to FBI documents, “that the possibility of threats against the British (sic) monarchy by the Irish Republican Army was ever present.” On that occasion “Boston and New York were asked to remain alert to any possible threat from members of the IRA against Elizabeth II, and that Louisville be provided with the same security [la ciudad de Kentucky que cada año acoge la famosa carrera de caballos]”.
In 1991, the queen was scheduled to attend a Baltimore Orioles baseball game with then-President George HW Bush. The FBI warned of a potential danger from an article in Irish Edition, a Philadelphia monthly covering all things Irish. “The article claimed that anti-British sentiments run very high,” the FBI documents say, “as a result of the well-publicized injustice inflicted on the Birmingham Six. [los seis condenados por atentar con bomba contra un pub de Birmingham en 1974, cuya condena fue luego anulada] at the hands of the corrupt English judicial system, as well as the recent brutal murders of unarmed Irish nationalists in the six counties [de Irlanda del Norte] at the hands of unionist death squads”.
The newspaper article also warned that a group of Irishmen had reserved a large number of seats at the baseball stadium where, the FBI suspected, they would try to express their protest against the British crown.
At the beginning of 1973, the IRA decided to extend to England —or against English interests— its campaign of attacks, until then centered on Belfast and Londonderry. The biggest blow against the British monarchy occurred on August 27, 1979, when the organization blew up the boat containing Louis Mountbatten, in County Sligo, in the Republic of Ireland. The last viceroy of India, a distant cousin of Elizabeth II and Philip of Edinburgh and unofficial guardian of the then Prince of Wales, Charles of England, died instantly, along with his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and Paul Maxwell, another 15-year-old boy helping the crew.
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