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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 Titlesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/118 Royal family (Security of HMQ during visit to Lusaka CHOGM) Begins: 1979 May 9 Ends: 1979 Jul 27 Date of release: Date of release: Temporarily Retained by Department File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2473 Royal Family (The Prince of Wales' Special Projects Unit) Begins: 1987 Jul 29 Ends: 1987 Sep 1 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
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
PREM19/354 Royal Family (Visit to France by Prince Charles, July 1980) Begins: 1980 Apr 15 Ends: 1980 Apr 30 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 8
PREM19/2474 Royal Family (Visits by the Queen to security services) Begins: 1980 Nov 4 Ends: 1988 Apr 28 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/581 Royal family (Visits to Northern Ireland by Princess Alexandra, June 1979 and June 1981) Begins: 1979 May 14 Ends: 1981 May 29 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 9
PREM19/2833 Royal Family (Visits to Northern Ireland by the Duke and Duchess of Kent) Begins: 1980 Mar 31 Ends: 1989 Jul 26 Date of release: 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2475 Saudi Arabia (Internal situation: relations with UK) Begins: 1986 May 1 Ends: 1987 Feb 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/901 Saudi Arabia (Visit to UK by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia, June 1981: talks with Prime Minister) Begins: 1981 Mar 3 Ends: 1981 Aug 3 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Confidential Pages: 145
PREM19/900 Saudi Arabia (Visit to UK by Shaikh Hisham Nazer, Saudi Minister of Planning: call on Prime Minister) Begins: 1982 Jan 8 Ends: 1982 Mar 2 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 14
PREM19/2476 Saudi Arabia (Visits by Crown Prince Abdullah, February 1984 and June 1988) Begins: 1982 Oct 7 Ends: 1988 Jun 21 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/1619 Science and Technology (Annual Review of Government-funded Research and Development: maintaining the strength of the science base) (Part 2) Begins: 1984 Aug 2 Ends: 1985 Mar 29 Date of release: 2014 Dec 30 File classification: Secret Pages: 359
PREM19/1937 Science and Technology (Collyear Report on new materials technology) Begins: 1984 Aug 8 Ends: 1986 Jan 9 Date of release: 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/585 Science and technology (Exploiting invention; problems faced by inventors in securing commercial exploitation; Prime Minister's reception for innovators and financiers, January 1981) Begins: 1980 Aug 22 Ends: 1981 Jan 31 Date of release: 2011 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 241
PREM19/902 Science and Technology (Government procurement of computers and related equipment; Prime Minister’s reception for representatives of the computer industry) Begins: 1981 Mar 11 Ends: 1982 Feb 15 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Confidential Pages: 131

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