It was July 20, 1982, in London. Only a few people affiliated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army knew what the day would hold, and their actions would write history in the worst of ways.
Sixteen soldiers marched down the street toward Whitehall for a changing of the guard. Cars lined the side of the road, which was nothing unusual on its own, but one of them was rigged to explode at a very crucial moment.
As the soldiers passed the weaponized vehicle, it exploded, flinging nails and debris right into the middle of the passing group. Three men died instantly, and another passed away later from his injuries.
In addition, seven horses were seriously injured, and either died on the spot or had to be put down. One horse, Sefton, was badly injured, with over 30 wounds, and was given a 50 percent chance of survival.
Somehow, the horse pulled through and was eventually immortalized by a statue. But that fateful day was far from over.
During lunchtime, the military band was performing when another explosion rocked attendees. Out of the 30 band members, seven were killed. The rest were injured, along with several civilians.
The Queen had no doubt seen some troubling times during her reign, but according to a recent interview, this day was the worst.
Brigadier Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall’s ex-husband, revealed that it had been a nice day when they’d started out.
“It was a nice, sunny day and suddenly one heard this explosion one heard all the time in Northern Ireland,” he said, according to Express.
“One of the barriers opened and someone said, ‘They’ve blown up the Guard.’ So we ran down to where the smoke was rising.
“The first horse I saw was Sefton. He had a bloody great hole in him but he managed to pull through.”
But the most revealing information he got came from the Queen later on in the day. “She said to me it was ‘the most ghastly day of my life,'” he recalled.
Feeling sorrow over the loss of his men, Bowles tried to get a statue in Hyde Park to honor their lives. It took a little finagling, but Bowles knew what he needed to do.
“The politicians didn’t want another memorial,” he said. “So I went to the Queen Mother, who went to the Queen. Now you can see it in Hyde Park.”
Gilbert “Danny” McNamee was sentenced in 1987 for making the Hyde Park bomb. An electronics engineer, he’d rigged the car with gelignite and nails, and detonated it from a distance.
He served about half his time before being released. No one was ever found the creator of the second bomb.
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