In 1983, Queen Elizabeth II undertook a tour of California, marking her only visit to the state during her lifetime. Her destinations included San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. Recently, the FBI released documents revealing that the Queen faced potential assassination threats during this visit.
These FBI documents, released Tuesday, detail the security measures taken by the Secret Service during the Queen’s 1983 U.S. tour, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip. The itinerary of this tour included several stops in California, specifically Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Yosemite National Park.
During this period, the Troubles in Northern Ireland were at their peak, and the Queen’s visit attracted protests against Britain’s role in the conflict. In one significant event, around 5,000 protestors gathered in Golden Gate Park, while the Queen was enjoying caviar and goose liver at a banquet in the de Young museum. The FBI documents refer frequently to heightened “anti-British feelings” due to the ongoing events in Northern Ireland. As a result, the Secret Service was instructed to collaborate closely with local law enforcement along the Queen’s route to monitor any potential threats.
One of the documents recounts a chilling phone call to the San Francisco Police Department from a man claiming his daughter was killed by a rubber bullet in Northern Ireland. This man threatened to harm the Queen in retaliation, suggesting he could drop an object from the Golden Gate Bridge onto the Royal Yacht Britannia as it passed beneath or attack her during her visit to Yosemite National Park.
The FBI document notes that authorities responded by closing the walkways on the Golden Gate Bridge while the Queen’s yacht was sailing underneath. However, it remains unclear how the man planned to carry out his threat in Yosemite.
Tragically, the Queen’s visit to Yosemite did result in death, although unrelated to the threats. Three U.S. Secret Service agents, leading the Queen’s motorcade on Highway 132, were killed when their vehicle collided head-on with a Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department vehicle near the Don Pedro Reservoir.