IRA sympathizer threatened to ‘kill’ Queen Elizabeth ahead of 1983 US visit: FBI

An Irish Republican Army sympathizer in San Francisco reportedly threatened to avenge the death of his daughter by attempting to “harm” or “kill” Queen Elizabeth II ahead of her March 1983 visit to the city, newly released FBI files revealed.

The man, whose name is redacted, allegedly told a San Francisco police officer he knew from the IRA-linked Dovre Club bar that his daughter had been fatally struck “by a rubber bullet” in Northern Ireland, the report states.

“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 teletype continues.

The police officer, whose name is also obscured, told the FBI that he received the disturbing message on Feb. 4, less than one month before Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, were set to arrive city after spending a few days in Los Angeles and at President Ronald Reagan’s private ranch.

Queen Elizabeth ll visited Yosemite National Park in March 1983.
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In response to this and other potential safety concerns, the Secret Service noted plans to close the Golden Gate Bridge walkways when the Britannia came close.

The troubling plot is one of many stateside IRA-linked threats revealed in the 102-page report that was released on Monday as part of a Freedom of Information act request by NBC News and other outlets following Queen Elizabeth’s death last fall.

While the contents of the report are mostly logistical communications about the Queen’s US visits between 1976 and 1991, the pages also reveal several instances when arms of the Irish Republican movement in the States threatened regular proceedings. 

The Britannia arriving in San Diego.
The unnamed man threatened to sabotage the royal yacht when it arrived in San Francisco.
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The IRA was founded in the late 1960s as a secretive paramilitary wing of Ireland’s Sinn Féin party. The group’s violent protests against British rule in Northern Ireland – including the 1979 assassination of Queen Elizabeth’s relative, Lord Mountbatten – was often the face of the Troubles, or the 30-year conflict that dominated the region through the late 1990s.

Sympathy for the Republican cause ran deep in Irish communities throughout the US. During the Queen’s 1976 bicentennial trip to New York City, the FBI file notes, a summons was issued to a pilot who flew a small plane over Battery Park with a sign reading “England, Get out of Ireland.”

Later, during the 1983 San Francisco trip, 5,000 protestors gathered in Golden Gate Park to protest Britain’s rule during the Troubles, SFGate said.

Queen Elizabeth speaks at the dinner in March 1983.
Queen Elizabeth attended a dinner in San Francisco while protestors gathered nearby.
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In 1991, ahead of the Queen and President George H.W. Bush’s planned visit to a Baltimore Orioles game, FBI intelligence alerted the Secret Service that “Irish groups” planned to protest the event.

The “anti-British feeling,” the teletype reported, was linked to the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six, or a group of Irish nationals who were falsely imprisoned for almost two decades for their alleged roles in two 1974 pub bombings.

The documents, however, include zero arrest records for anyone caught trying to execute political violence or other plots against the Queen during her time in the States.

In a letter dated Tuesday, NBC News reported, the FBI acknowledged that “additional records” on the issue may exist.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy Reagan arriving in Santa Barbara.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent a few days in Santa Barbara at President Reagan’s ranch.
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The FBI’s trove of information on security measures for Queen Elizabeth comes the same week that her grandson, Prince Harry, lost a legal bid to challenge the British government’s decision to forbid him from paying for police protection in the UK.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, was stripped of his taxpayer-funded police escort when he and his wife, Meghan Markle, decamped to California in 2020.

The flame-haired prince – who is estranged from his father, now King Charles III, and the rest of the royal family – has argued that he, Meghan, and their two children are not safe to visit his home country without more adequate protection.