Prince William is at risk whenever he flies an air ambulance helicopter in East Anglia – because of a mobile app.
The app, which we will not name for security reasons, locates the position, speed and altitude of the helicopter that The Duke of Cambridge flies in his role with East Anglian Air Ambulance Service. This means anyone can locate Prince William precisely, at any given moment when he is flying.
Concerns were raised when it was noticed William’s craft was included on the app, with the information available online, too. As second-in-line, Prince William is always a target for terrorists; there is even a rule that the heirs to the throne do not travel together:William and Catherine had to seek The Queen’s permission to travel together to New Zealand last Spring for their tour. Prince Charles and Diana did the same thing for their tour Down Under in the 1980s with William.
The Duke, who began his first shift a few weeks ago with some kind words about his family, left the RAF in 2013, a few moths after the birth of Prince George. He missed flying as an RAF search and rescue pilot in Anglesey, and so William took the job with EAAAS as an air ambulance pilot, completing his training in April.
Roy Ramm, a former Specialist Operations commander at Scotland Yard called for immediate action to shut down the security loophole.
“Knowing the precise movements, altitude and speed of an aircraft in flight is intelligence gold for any terrorist. The ability to track a high-profile target like this presents a really serious risk,” he said.
“Even without expensive and sophisticated weaponry, there is the real danger that an inexpensive drone could be used to put any aircraft flown by William at risk. There is also the risk that a terrorist might simply open fire on his aircraft at low altitude with the kind of automatic weapon readily available to gangs in London. After all, the Prince is flying an air ambulance, not an armoured gunship.”
Scotland Yard SO14 branch is the one tasked with Royal protection; they also coordinate security at Royal engagements for members of the Royal Family, including the Duke. However, whilst on duty, he is not afforded the same protection.
Diana, Princess of Wales’ former protection officer, Ken Wharfe added: “It’s madness to have his flight details displayed in this way on an open website, and it should have been addressed long before now. Prince William is a target whether he likes it or not, and it just takes one nutter with a gun to act on this information and take a potshot.”
The former security officer also questioned whether the Prince should be in the role at all, since he is out in the open with the public.
The Japanese government reportedly got flight information about their VIP planes that ferry ambassadors, government officials and the Imperial Family around, removed for such reasons. President Obama’s plane, Air Force One, is not included on the app, nor do military flights. The Duke’s helicopter, however, is classed as a civilian aircraft.
We hope that the Palace address this issue quickly.
Photo: Defence Images