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The Queen made an extraordinary personal intervention with ministers in order to prevent her cousin being kidnapped by the IRA, a new book reveals.

In 1971, the Duke of Kent, an Army officer with the Royal Scots Greys, was sent to Northern Ireland with his unit.

However, the former Northern Ireland prime minister, Lord O’Neil received a warning that the IRA were planning to kidnap the then 35-year-old Duke when his unit entered Belfast.

The peer passed the message on to the Queen via her private secretary. She, in turn alerted Prime Minister Edward Heath during her private audience and he relayed a warning to his ministers.

The Queen, pictured, made it known she did not want her cousin, the Duke of Kent deployed to Northern Ireland with the Royal Scots Greys in 1971

The Queen, pictured, made it known she did not want her cousin, the Duke of Kent deployed to Northern Ireland with the Royal Scots Greys in 1971

The Queen, pictured, made it known she did not want her cousin, the Duke of Kent deployed to Northern Ireland with the Royal Scots Greys in 1971

The Duke of Kent, pictured, was an officer with the Royal Scots Greys who were sent to Belfast in 1971. The Queen made it known she did not want him sent to Northern Ireland where the IRA had plans to kidnap him

The Duke of Kent, pictured, was an officer with the Royal Scots Greys who were sent to Belfast in 1971. The Queen made it known she did not want him sent to Northern Ireland where the IRA had plans to kidnap him

The Duke of Kent, pictured, was an officer with the Royal Scots Greys who were sent to Belfast in 1971. The Queen made it known she did not want him sent to Northern Ireland where the IRA had plans to kidnap him

Commanding officers were then told, very clearly, that the Duke was not to be sent to Belfast without special orders. A few weeks later, the Duke was posted back to the mainland.

The revelation appears in Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman who discovered the secret correspondence in the National Archives.

He quotes the Ministry of Defence official, A.W. Stephens, who informed the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Robert Armstrong, on February 11: ‘The Queen’s wish that the Duke should not be sent into Belfast has been carefully noted.’

Mr Hardman said: ‘This was a time when kidnappings were on the up – a British diplomat had been kidnapped by separatists in Quebec months earlier – and the Queen was clearly worried enough about the credibility of this rumour that she intervened with the PM.

‘Though she has always been very loyal to her cousins – and they to her – this would not have been a case of special treatment.

‘When it came to the Falklands, for example, the Queen was adamant that Prince Andrew should not receive special treatment. She would have been more concerned that the Duke of Kent’s presence was a danger to his men.’

The Royal family – including the Queen – have been a target for the IRA.

The organisation claimed responsibility for the 1979 murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, second cousin of the Queen and great-uncle of Prince Charles.

The World War II hero and last viceroy of India was aboard his 29-foot Shadow V fishing boat with six others near his summer home in northwest Ireland the morning of the attack.

The IRA were also said to be behind a failed bomb attempt to assassinate the Queen in 1981 when she opened a giant new oil terminal at Sullom Voe in Shetland.

The IRA made it clear they regarded the Royal Family as ‘legitimate targets’ during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland in August 1977, warning that they would give her a ‘jubilee bomb blitz to remember’.

The revelation over the Duke of Kent coincides with the announcement that the Duke has become the latest member of the Royal Family to write his memoirs.

While the Royal Family await this autumn’s publication of Prince Harry’s memoirs with dread, it is understood that they are entirely happy with the forthcoming book, A Royal Life, which the Duke has written with the historian, Hugo Vickers. It includes his memories of his father’s death during the Second World War, of being bullied at prep school and of his nerves at taking part in the Coronation.

The Duke, who has recorded memories of his unusual life for posterity, has offered a glimpse of the Royal family at play, from the Queen and Princess Margaret as young sisters to the Queen and Prince Philip enjoying a casual lunch at Balmoral in his book A Royal Life.

Known as Prince Edward before he inherited the title aged six on the death of his father, the Duke has had a ringside seat to royal history for his 86 years.

He is first cousin to the Queen, related through their fathers, and his book promises ‘unique insights, with photographs from the Duke’s personal collection’.

Source: Daily Mail

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