An IRA attempt to assassinate Britain’s Prince Philip on a 1973 state visit to Australia was foiled by Sydney police.

A former Australian spy has claimed that the IRA plot was foiled when two bombs were found just minutes before his motorcade was set to drive through Sydney.

The Daily Mirror reports on the claims by former Aussie intelligence officer Warren Russell.

He says in his new book ‘Shadow of a Spy’ that a mystery caller told him: “We’re going to get that Greek b*****d, the Duke, he’s a dead man.”

Russell was employed as a journalist at the time of the planned IRA attack in March 1973.

He says two devices were found in a rubbish bin along Prince Philip’s route and a locker at the Central Station which the Queen’s husband was due to visit. Both were defused.

Russell writes: “I immediately informed Special Branch and my intelligence contact. I was told the threat was credible and of the IRA’s likely involvement.

“Next day the Royal Protection team ordered the approaching motorcade and police motorcycle escort to take evasive action.” The report adds that the alert, at the height of the IRA bomb campaign in Britain, sparked a huge security operation that traced the crude devices.

Full details of the assassination bid did not emerge after the Australian government imposed a publication ban.

The New York Times did run a small news story next day which was headlined ‘Bombs are detected’.

Russell says in the book that, acting on orders, he had it placed there as part of an FBI trap to keep tabs on the IRA at a time when it relied heavily on funding from supporters in the US.

The ex-spy, now 75, said: “I later learned the paper’s personal ads were scrutinised for coded messages on the bombs, as the IRA had used the columns previously.”

He also claims that years later, at a reception in Sydney, the Queen thanked him “for your sense of duty and service’ while the Duke smiled at him and shook his hand warmly.