THE meticulously choreographed arrangements surrounding the resignation of Huddersfield-born Prime Minister Harold Wilson are revealed today in previously secret documents.
The timetable gives a behind- the-scenes insight into the announcement that was shrouded in secrecy until the last minute.
Those planning the announcement left nothing to chance, setting out the protocol of telling the Queen, his colleagues and the press.
It reveals Downing Street asked police to be ready with barriers at the time of the announcement.
The document, released by the National Archives at Kew under the 30-year rule, is entitled: "Harold Wilson draft action plan and timetable for resignation."
A handwritten date at the top reads "16.3.76" - the day he announced in a unexpected statement that he was to resign the premiership as soon as the Labour Party had elected a new leader.
The timetable shows he was to first tell Sir Martin Charteris, then private secretary to the Queen, of his decision, the day before the official announcement.
Monday was taken up with revising and clearing the draft statement before showing it to the Queen and senior colleagues.
The final statement was signed, telegrams prepared for overseas posts and personal messages written to European heads of state and US President Gerald Ford.
After a number of meetings and checks on Tuesday, the timetable reads:
12.Prime Minister makes Statement to Cabinet (without addendum).
13. On conclusion, signed Statements to be handed out to Cabinet.
14.On Prime Minister's signal, Mr Haines (Wilson's press secretary) leaves Cabinet Room (through Private Office), tells private secretaries that statement made and authorises Press Office to issue statement.
14a.Normal Cabinet proceeds with Lord President in chair.
14b.Arrangements made for press conference in MoD/Treasury at 4pm.
The document also suggests Wilson's diary was to be left intact until after the announcement had been made, with point 24 reading: "PM's diary revised for Tuesday".