BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: UK Confidential  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
UK Confidential Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 10:06 GMT
Well I never knew that...
Top secret government papers
The Documents reveal some funny facts about 1971
From Edward Heath's get well message to the Queen following a spell of chicken pox to the Decimal Currency Board's fears that the new penny will encourage vandalism in public toilets.

Documents released under the 30-year rule uncover some interesting facts about those making the headlines in 1971...


A letter from the Prime Minister, Edward Heath in 1971 reveals that the Queen had been suffering from chicken pox (23 November)

"Madam I write with my humble duty to Your Majesty to commiserate with you on contracting chickenpox. I am afraid that it is an uncomfortable complaint, but I am glad to think that it is not serious, and I send you my best wishes for a quick recovery.

With my humble duty, I remain, Your Majesty's faithful and devoted servant, Edward Heath."

Her Majesty replies::

I have been told not to go amongst crowds in case of infection from them

Elizabeth R

"My dear Prime Minister. How very kind of you to write and sympathise - it seems a ridiculous disease to catch, especially when it isn't even from one's own children!

The doctors say that I have had chicken pox quite mildly for a grown-up - but it is not much consolation when one is covered in spots! I trust by Tuesday I shall be completely free of all possible infection, but I have been told not to go amongst crowds in case of infection from them - one can't win from a virus!

Yours sincerely Elizabeth R"


Edward Heath was warned that his passion for sailing could damage his government's reputation at the height of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders crisis.

He was taken to task by his private secretary, RTA Armstrong after a critical article appeared in the Evening News on the 30 July following his plans to sail in the first race of Cowes week.

Ted Heath outside Downing Street
Heath shocked pundits when he was elected PM in 1971
The article reported:

"The Commons on Monday has an emergency debate on the carving up of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and the consequential unemployment in Glasgow.

This affair has already produced one of the noisiest scenes in the commons for a very long time.

But on Monday Mr Heath is due to take part in a 35 miles inshore race starting at 9.30am.

His close colleagues would like him to announce his withdrawal from the crew."

In a confidential memo to the Prime Minister, Armstrong warns his leader of the dangers of not turning up to a debate on the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders crisis:

"I am very much afraid that, if you do not come back for the debate, the fact that you have not done so will be a kind of albatross round your neck in any future contribution you make to the subject of UCS, and may - quite unreasonably - make it more difficult to get the government's policy accepted."

Heath took note of his secretary's warning, as he withdrew from the race and attended the commons debate on the UCS crisis.


Documents disclosed from members of the Decimal Currency Board reveal they were nervous about the effect decimalisation would have on Britain.

A correspondence between A.R Butler and Mr Moore, civil servants and members of the Decimal Currency Board, demonstrates their concern over spending a penny: (18 November)

"..it still seems that a major calamity could be the non-delivery of 'Your Guide to Decimal Money' brought about by a strike of postal workers....

..I think we must expect some increased vandalism of public lavatories because the conversion of door locks will certainly not be rapid enough to keep pace with the disappearance of the 1d."


In 1971, Prince Phillip appeared to make a small faux pas. A speech he made to the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth was interpreted as anti-Common Market, and in a letter to Ted Heath, he explained his actions: (22 June)

"Dear Prime Minister, I am appalled to think that some casual remarks at a small conference in Edinburgh should have caused such a fuss.

I apologise profusely for causing your any further trouble on this vexed question.


I am afraid the mere words 'Common Market' have the same effect on the press as the bells had on Pavlov's dogs.

Prince Philip
At the time my mind was running on a completely different tack and I never dreamed that my comments could be construed as being either pro or anti-Common Market.

I am afraid the mere words 'Common Market' have the same effect on the press as the bells had on Pavlov's dogs.

Yours sincerely, Philip."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 NEWS BULLETINS
Launch console for latest Audio/Video




Forum











E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Confidential stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes