John F Kennedy (catalogue reference DEFE 13/323/3)

18 November 2013

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy's assassination on 22 November, a file recording the British government's reaction to the news in 1963 has been digitised by The National Archives and made available online for the first time.

The file, PREM 11/4582, includes the draft statement prepared for then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home in which he told the nation: 'You have heard the dreadful news. I find it almost impossible, as I expect you do, to accept the fact that President Kennedy is dead.'

The file also contains telegram messages from HM The Queen and former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to the recently-widowed Mrs Kennedy, reactions from around the world, including Cuba and the USSR, and arrangements for British representation at Kennedy's funeral in Washington, DC.

Free to download from Discovery for one month, the file is an important record of the reaction on this side of the Atlantic to one of the 20th century's most shocking events.

Look out for more on the Kennedy assassination papers on The National Archives' blog this Friday.

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