John Anthony Downey is charged with the murders of four soldiers in the IRA’s notorious Hyde Park bombing in London 31 years ago.
Downey, 61, of County Donegal, Ireland, is accused of being responsible for a car bomb left in South Carriage Drive.
The explosion killed four members of the Royal Household Cavalry as they travelled from their barracks to Buckingham Palace. He was arrested at Gatwick Airport on Sunday.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the Metropolitan Police had been investigating the bombing in central London and it had now given authorisation for Downey to be charged.
Downey has been charged with the murders of Roy John Bright, Dennis Richard Anthony Daly, Simon Andrew Tipper and Geoffrey Vernon Young.
He has also been charged with intending to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.
Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counter-terrorism at the CPS, said: “This decision was taken in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors. “We have determined that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that these charges are in the public interest.”
Downey will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on Wednesday.
As well as the deaths of the four soldiers, 23 people were injured in the bombing, for which the IRA claimed responsibility.
Those responsible used a nail bomb hidden in a car and seven horses also died.
Two hours after the bombing, a second explosion in a Regent’s Park bandstand killed seven Royal Green Jackets bandsmen.
The bomb went off during a performance of Oliver! in front of a crowd of 120 people. Dozens were injured by shrapnel, including members of the band who survived.
The allegations against Downey are not related to this incident.
In 1987, Northern Ireland electrician Gilbert “Danny” McNamee was charged with making the Hyde Park bomb and jailed for 25 years.
He served 12 years before being freed under the terms of the Good Friday peace deal.
In 1998, his conviction was quashed at the high court, after a high-profile campaign by celebrities including Eddie Izzard.
But although his conviction was “unsafe” it did not follow he was innocent of the crime, the judges said.