Princess Margaret was stopped from taking an Irish holiday in 1968 over fears that a visit wouldrevitalise the IRA, newly unearthed documents revealed.
Margaret, her husband Lord Snowdon and their two children were planning to spend EasteratBirr Castle in County Offaly, Ireland with Lord Snowdon’s stepfather.
But newly declassified documents show the British embassy rejected the proposal because of the ‘existence of a body of extremists who will feel obliged, even if it is merely to justify their existence, to create trouble’, The Times reported.
British government officials also noted how when the late Queen’s sister had visited Ireland three years prior, the IRA had ‘succeeded in exploiting the opportunity for making trouble by various acts of hooliganism’.
Had the royals’ holiday moved forward, it would have coincided with the52nd anniversary of the insurrection against British rule in Dublin.
Princess Margaret was stopped from taking an Irish holiday in 1968 over fears that a visit would revitalise the IRA, newly unearthed documents revealed. She is pictured with her husband Lord Snowdon and their baby son David
Margaret, her husband Lord Snowdon and their two children were planning to spend Easter at Birr Castle in County Offaly, Ireland with Lord Snowdon’s stepfather.But documents show the British embassy rejected the proposal because theyfeared the visit would re-energise militant republicans. Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon and the Countess of Rosse are pictured leaving Birr Castle in 1965
When her holiday proposal was rejected, the government alleged that a repeat visit could prompt ‘protest against the presence of a member of the royal family on Irish soil’.
It is understood the officials feared the visit wouldre-energise militant republicans who they alleged had been ‘fairly quiescent’ at the time.
‘This has been largely due to the successful prosecution of the policy of the Irish government to let the organisation ‘wither on the vine’, in which we have co-operated by refraining from naval visits,’ the document stated.
The correspondence reportedly demonstrated a reluctance to ‘jeopardise’ what The Times referred to as the ‘fragile process of peace and reconciliation’.
PA Carter, a Dublin-based diplomat, had written that for the ‘mass of Irishmen’ a visit from the Princess and her family ‘would be welcome’.
But he added: ‘Nevertheless, we have to accept the existence of a body of extremists who will feel obliged, even if it is merely to justify their existence, to create trouble.
It is understood the officials feared her visit would re-energise militant republicans who they alleged had been ‘fairly quiescent’ at the time. Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon are pictured in November 1969
He wrote that the ambassador ‘sympathises very much’ with Margaret’s desire to ‘have a quiet family holiday in Ireland’ but, on ‘political considerations’, had to ‘reach a conclusion adverse to the visit’.
The following summer then-Home SecretaryJames Callaghan was contacted by the Irish nationalist MP for West Belfast who asked for help to protect Catholics in the city who were reportedly the ‘target of sectarian rioting’.
British troops were sent in as part of a peacekeeping operation, but their presence led to theconsolidation of the Provisional IRA. It also saw the start of the nearly 40-year Troubles conflict that claimed over 3,700 lives.
Princess Margaret died at age 71 in 2002 after battling years of health problems.