It has today been revealed that Prince William has completed three weeks observing the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
The Duke of Cambridge began his secret stint with the Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, approximately three weeks ago. MI6 is the branch of intelligence responsible for protecting the UK from risks abroad.
William learnt about the risks to the UK’s national security, military effectiveness and economy, the Palace said. It is understood that this included monitoring ISIL in Syria.
He then shadowed MI5 for a week, to see how the service works to combat threats internally. The future King saw counter-terrorism teams analysing intelligence and conducting investigations on UK soil. While it has not been confirmed by the palace, it is thought the Duke actually followed a team out of the office and into the field, to see operations in action.
The royal visitor undertook tasks that new recruits to the service complete, such as problem solving and identifying threats.
The former air ambulance pilot has been almost completely absent for royal engagements the last few weeks, save for a couple of investitures. This revelation from Kensington Palace is a reminder that not all royal work is public-facing.
Lastly, William spent a week at GCHQ in Cheltenham, which is the Government’s listening centre to monitor communications that might pose a risk.
A statement has come from the Duke about the experience: “Spending time inside our security and intelligence agencies, understanding more about the vital contribution they make to our national security, was a truly humbling experience.
“These agencies are full of people from everyday backgrounds doing the most extraordinary work to keep us safe. They work in secret, often not even able to tell their family and friends about the work they do or the stresses they face.
“They are driven by an unrivalled patriotism and dedication to upholding the values of this country.
We all owe them deep gratitude for the difficult and dangerous work they do.”
Kensington Palace said the Duke was keen to see first-hand the extraordinary work that staff across the Security and Intelligence Agencies do. It also seems clear this is a further step of training for the Royal, who will take the throne after his father, to truly understand the country he will one day rule.
William has also completed a bespoke course at the Cambridge University focusing on agriculture, so that he is prepared to run the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster in future, and his work as an air ambulance pilot has given him insight into the world of medicine and health in the UK.
Head of Counter-Terrorism Operations at GCHQ, known only as ‘David’, said Prince William worked “exceptionally hard to embed himself in the team”.
He added: “His Royal Highness asked some probing questions and demonstrated a real grasp of our mission.
“This was a rare opportunity to expose, in detail, the technical ingenuity and problem solving skills needed on a daily basis to help keep the UK safe.”