On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the tenth James Bond novel—and eleventh book—by Ian Fleming, published in 1963. In 1969, it was produced as the sixth film in the James Bond movie series, and the first and only film starring George Lazenby as Bond.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is considered the second book in what is known as the 'Blofeld Trilogy', which resumes from Thunderball after the interlude novel The Spy Who Loved Me, and concludes with You Only Live Twice.
For more than a year, James Bond, British secret agent 007, has been trailing the private criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in 'Operation Bedlam'. This pursuit is partially described in The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond explains to Vivienne Michel the aftermath of 'Operation Thunderball' and the escape of Blofeld. By the time of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond is convinced S.P.E.C.T.R.E. no longer exists. Frustrated by his inability to find Blofeld, Bond composes a letter of resignation for M. Meanwhile, Bond encounters a suicidal, beautiful, young woman saving her from a coup de deshonneur at a casino and then interrupts her attempted suicide (by drowning) the next day.
This woman, Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo ('Tracy' to her friends) is the daughter of Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Union Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate. Her father believes the only way to save his daughter is for Bond to marry her. To facilitate this, he offers Bond a great dowry—as well as Blofeld's whereabouts. Bond refuses the offer, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy while her mental health improves.
Draco informs Bond that Blofeld has been hiding in Switzerland; upon further investigation, Bond discovers he has assumed the title and name Comte Balthazar de Bleuville. Blofeld has undergone plastic surgery to physically pass as heir of the de Bleuville bloodline—to the degree that he has asked the London College of Arms to declare him the reigning count. On a visit to the College of Arms, Bond finds that the family motto of Sir Thomas Bond is "The World Is Not Enough", and that he might be (though unlikely) Bond's ancestor. On the pretext that a genetically-inherited minor physical abnormality (a lack of earlobes) needs a personal confirmation, Bond impersonates a College of Arms representative, Sir Hilary Bray. Bond infiltrates Blofeld's lair atop Piz Gloria and finally meets Blofeld.
At Piz Gloria, Bond learns Blofeld has been curing a group of young British and Irish women of their livestock and food allergies. On Christmas Eve, fellow 00 agent Shaun Campbell is captured by Blofeld's men and nearly blows Bond's cover. Knowing Campbell will be tortured into revealing Bond's true identity, Bond escapes by ski from Piz Gloria and encounters Tracy, looking for Bond based on her father's last known wherabouts, in the nearby village. She helps him escape S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Switzerland. Smitten by the resourceful, headstrong woman, he proposes marriage, and she accepts.
While discussing his evidence with men from the The Department of Agriculture and Fish, Bond and M discover Blofeld and his homely aide, Irma Bunt, have been brainwashing the young British and Irish women into carrying biological warfare agents back to the UK in order to destroy Britain's agriculture economy, upon which post-World War II Britain depends.
Not wanting to let Blofeld escape whilst waiting on Swiss official cooperation, Bond enlists Marc-Ange Draco's Union Corse to mount an air assault against Piz Gloria to attempt to attack Blofeld and stop the government for buying him off with a pardon and recognition of his title. Blofeld escapes down the mountain's bobsled run by dropping a grenade which blows the pursuing Bond out of the track.
A few days later, Bond and Tracy wed. On the way to their honeymoon, Blofeld and Irma Bunt avenge their defeat via a drive-by shooting of the newlyweds. Bond gains consciousness as a patrolman approaches the car. Bond cradles Tracy's still body, telling the officer "we have all the time in the world."
- The book was the first James Bond novel published after the start of the official film series. In tribute, Fleming mentions Dr. No co-star Ursula Andress by name in one chapter, describing her as a beautiful movie star. Ian Fleming also pays tribute to the first official James Bond, Sean Connery, by establishing that 007's surname, as well as his father, was Scottish.
- Ian Fleming often visited Kitzbühel in Austria to ski and learn German during the 1930's. During one of his trips, he deliberately caused a small avalanche and raced it to the bottom of the hill. This idea was used for Bond's escape from Piz Gloria, where enemy gunfire causes an avalanche for him to outrun.
- Additionally, he would occasionally stay at the sports club of Schloss Mittersill in the Austrian Alps; in 1940 the Nazis closed down the club and turned it into a research establishment. It was this pseudo-scientific research centre that inspired Blofeld's own centre of Piz Gloria.
Comic strip adaptation
Ian Fleming's 1963 novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the British Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide. Possibly the longest James Bond novel adaptation, the strip ran for nearly a year, from June 29, 1964 to May 17, 1965. The adaptation, which revived the comic strip after a two-year hiatus, was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. It has been reprinted by Titan Books in 2004.
Caroline Munro, who had a small role in 1967's Casino Royale and played Naomi in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me, was one of the models hired to pose for the cover of the 1969 Pan Books paperback edition, along with Jenny Hanley, who played one of Blofeld's Angels of Death in the film. Hanley's image was also included on Signet Books' film tie-in edition.