LONDON – The Queen once plotted to hit the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin over the head with a ceremonial sword, according to a new set of archives.
Lord Mountbatten’s diary from 1977 reveals how the monarch was concerned Amin might “gatecrash” her Silver Jubilee.
Throughout the 1970s the Queen was warned of how damaging it would be if she was seen with a “Commonwealth head of government known to be a murderer”, and “elaborate contingency plans” were drawn up by the security services in case the dictator ever tried to attend with other leaders.
According to extracts of the memoir published in Monarchy and the End of Empire, Lord Mountbatten said he asked the Queen why she looked “rather cross and worried” during the Jubilee service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
“She laughed and said, ‘I was just thinking how awful it would be if Amin were to gatecrash the party and arrive after all’.
“I asked her what she had proposed to do and she said she had decided she would use the City’s Pearl Sword which the Lord Mayor had placed in front of her to hit him hard over the head with.”
Professor Philip Murphy, who wrote the book after accessing the archives in his role as director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, admitted Lord Mountbatten’s choice of words could be taken with “a pinch of salt”, but said they paint a picture of the threat posed by the infamous dictator at the time.
Prof Murphy said the anecdote is one of many showing the role the Queen played in maintaining peace within the Commonwealth.
He told the Telegraph the monarch became “increasingly important” in holding countries together, and had helped smooth diplomacy simply “by virtue of being there”.
Monarchy and the End of Empire is published by the Oxford University Press.
In 1971, President Amin overthrew the elected government of Milton Obote and declared himself president of Uganda, launching a ruthless eight-year regime in which an estimated 500,000 civilians were massacred.
His expulsion of all Indian and Pakistani citizens in 1972—along with increasing military expenditures—brought about the country’s economic decline, the impact of which lasted decades.
Once in power, Amin began mass executions upon the Acholi and Lango, Christian tribes that had been loyal to Obote and therefore perceived as a threat.
He also began terrorizing the general public through the various internal security forces he organized, such as the State Research Bureau (SRB) and Public Safety Unity (PSU), whose main purpose was to eliminate those who opposed his regime
When the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked an Air France flight from Israel to Paris on June 27, 1976, Idi Amin welcomed the terrorists and supplied them with troops and weapons, but was humiliated when Israeli commandos subsequently rescued the hostages in a surprise raid on the Entebbe airport.
In the aftermath, Amin ordered the execution of several airport personnel, hundreds of Kenyans whom were believed to have conspired with Israel and an elderly British hostage who had previously been escorted to a nearby hospital.
In 1979 his reign of terror came to an end as Ugandan exiles and Tanzanians took control of the capital of Kampala, forcing Amin to flee.
Never brought to justice for his heinous crimes, Amin lived out the remainder of his life in Saudi Arabia.