He was a ruthless despot whose terror reign alarmed the entire globe. The Queen, on the other hand, signed off on a letter to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin with the words ‘Your Good Friend’, only weeks before his crimes were disclosed.
The extraordinary letter is revealed for the first time in previously unpublished papers from the National Archives.
They also disclose how the Queen suddenly revised her attitude on Amin while maintaining a semblance of diplomatic formality out of concern for British residents’ security in the African country.
Amin, a former British Colonial Army officer who seized power in a 1971 coup, was left giddy with excitement after receiving a Christmas card from the Foreign Office.
He sent a gushing letter in January 1972 inviting the Queen to the tenth anniversary of Ugandan independence that October, writing: ‘It would do my government a great honour if Your Majesty could grace these celebrations with your presence in the company of your husband and the rest of your family.’
‘I am extremely unhappy that my engagements at the moment will prohibit me from accepting your offer,’ the Queen politely declined.
She concluded with her customary sign-off to heads of state: ‘I am your good friend, Elizabeth R.’
Amin expelled Uganda’s sizable Asian minority later that year, including many thousands of British passport holders, and reports of vast atrocities committed under his regime began to emerge.
As a result, the Queen was reluctant to send a proposed message to Uganda for Independence Day.
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