FBI documents reveal plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II during her 1983 US visit

There was a potential threat to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II during her trip to the United States in 1983.

Documents detailing the murder plot were released this week on the FBI Archives website. Britain’s longest-serving monarch died in September after a 70-year reign. She was 96 years old.

The late monarch’s visit to the West Coast with her husband, Prince Philip, included a stopover in San Francisco. At the time, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were invited by President Ronald Reagan to visit his home state of California.

The FBI said a San Francisco police officer who frequented a bar frequented by Irish Republican Army sympathizers received a phone call. It was from an unidentified customer who claimed his daughter was killed in Northern Ireland by a rubber bullet.


Queen Elizabeth II was invited by then President Ronald Reagan to visit her home state of California. (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

According to the documents, the man said he would ‘attempt to harm Queen Elizabeth’ by dropping an object from the Golden Gate Bridge onto the Queen’s royal yacht or trying to kill her during a visit to the Yosemite National Park. He noted that the Secret Service planned to close the Golden Gate Bridge walkways as the ship approached.

The royal visit to the United States took place during The Troubles, the 30-year-old conflict in Northern Ireland, People magazine reported. It has divided unionists and nationalists over whether Northern Ireland should remain within the UK or join the Republic of Ireland, the BBC noted.

According to the outlet, groups from both sides have carried out attacks and British troops have been deployed in Northern Ireland. More than 3,500 people were killed during the conflict.

Queen Elizabeth flashes a big smile while wearing a bright green coat with a matching hat.

Queen Elizabeth II died in September at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96 years old. (Max Momby/Indigo)

Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was murdered by a bomb in 1979. The Troubles ended in 1998 after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The royal couple arrived on the Royal Yacht Britannia. They spent a week in California.

Prince Philip, Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Ronald Reagan posing together at a banquet

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan on San Francisco Harbor in 1983. (David Levenson/Getty Images)

The 56-year-old queen arrived with an entourage of around 40, The New York Times reported. She was accompanied by several ladies-in-waiting and her private secretary, Sir Philip Moore. The outlet said the former “M*A*S*H” soundstage was turned into a backdrop for a 500-guest party.

Queen Elizabeth wearing a green dress and holding a bouquet of flowers

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by a child upon her arrival in Lexington, Ky., May 26, 1989, during a visit to the United States. (David Banks/AFP via Getty Images)

The names of the officer and the caller were redacted from the documents, which do not indicate whether precautions were taken at Yosemite or whether arrests were made. A note dated March 7, 1983 said the Queen had ended the American visit “without incident” and that “no further inquiry is warranted”.

The documents also detailed other security issues regarding the Queen’s visits to various US cities.


Queen Elizabeth wearing a red and black dress standing next to President Bush

President George HW Bush (1925-2018), left, talks with Queen Elizabeth II in a dugout at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore on May 15, 1991. (Arnie Sachs/CNP/Getty Images)

Before the Queen visited Kentucky in 1989, the FBI noted that “the possibility of threats to the British Monarchy is ever present from the Irish Republican Army”.

When the Queen attended a Baltimore Orioles game with President George HW Bush in 1991, several dozen protesters in the park chanted slogans condemning British policy in Northern Ireland.


The Queen’s eldest son, King Charles III, was crowned on May 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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