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MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

List and links to the PM’s files

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT’s Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Private Office files, 1979-1989

1979-89: Chancellor’s Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]

Engagement Diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT’s engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

File name Title Begins Ends Date of releasesort descending Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/3761 Foreign Policy (Future inward and outward State visits: visits by members of the Royal Family) (Part 6) Begins: 1990 Jan 1 Ends: 1992 Jan 31 Date of release: 2032 Jan 1
PREM19/1366 Royal family (Visit by the Queen to Liverpool, May 1984) Begins: 1984 Mar 12 Ends: 1984 May 14 Date of release: 2032 Jan 1 File classification: Retained
PREM19/3564 Spain (Visits to the UK by Spanish Foreign Ministers) Begins: 1981 Aug 17 Ends: 1991 May 8 Date of release: 2032 Jan 1
PREM19/3516 Royal Family (Civil List) (Part 6) Begins: 1990 Jul 2 Ends: 1991 Dec 12 Date of release: 2032 Jan 1
PREM19/209 Energy (Offshore supplies interest relief grants scheme; report on irregular payments) Begins: 1979 Sep 13 Ends: 1980 Jun 2 Date of release: 2034 Jan 1 File classification: Retained (personal information)
PREM19/3533 Security ​​​​​​​(Telephone scramblers installed in private homes: security of the private homes of No. 10 Downing Street staff)​​​​​​​ Begins: 1981 Jan 14 Ends: 1991 Jan 30 Date of release: 2052 Jan 1
PREM19/3755 European Policy (European Commission: appointment of President, UK Commissioners and Secretariat; allocation of European Commission portfolios) (Part 4) Begins: 1988 Sep 27 Ends: 1992 Jul 31 Date of release: 2053 Jan 1 File classification: Closed under FOI excemptions
PREM19/1524 Home Affairs (Monopolies and Mergers papers) (Part 1) Begins: 1981 Dec 10 Ends: 1985 Dec 19 Date of release: 2054 Jan 1 File classification: FOI exemptions
PREM19/3515 Royal Family ​​​​​​​(Career of Prince Michael of Kent) Begins: 1980 Feb 1 Ends: 1991 Sep 19 Date of release: 2058 Jan 1
PREM19/132 Zambia (Policy) Begins: 1979 Jul 13 Ends: 1979 Jul 23 Date of release: Date of release: Closed
PREM19/2331 Morocco (UK/Moroccan relations: visit to UK by King Hassan) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Nov 27 Ends: 1987 Nov 27 Date of release: Date of release: Closed or retained
PREM19/583 Royal family (Form of memorial to Lord Mountbatten; erection of a statue) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 Sep 19 Ends: 1981 May 29 Date of release: Date of release: Closed till 2022 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/584 Royal family (Future career of Prince of Wales) Begins: 1979 May 31 Ends: 1981 Dec 21 Date of release: Date of release: Closed till 2022 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/863 Parliament (Queen's speeches on prorogation and opening of Parliament; televising the State Opening of Parliament) (Part 4) Begins: 1981 Oct 26 Ends: 1982 Oct 26 Date of release: Date of release: Closed until 2023-01-01 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/1125 Royal family (Prince of Wales' article, 'Help for Self-Help', for publication in The Economist) Begins: 1983 Mar 11 Ends: 1983 Mar 18 Date of release: Date of release: Closed until 2024-01-01 File classification: Unknown