Her Majesty paid an unannounced visit to MI5 headquarters in London today, where she praised staff for their ‘tireless work’ in British security.
The Queen was given a tour of the agency’s private museum by Sir Andrew Parker, who is MI5’s Director General, at Thames House.
The Sovereign was shown historic artefacts that tell the story of double in the Second World War: agents helped deceive Nazi intelligence as to the location of the hugely-important D-Day landings.
The Queen also heard about her father, George VI, and his role in deception during the war. The King visited a fake oil storage depot in Dover built by Shepperton film studios on behalf of the War Office to throw the enemy off the scent.
MI5 was founded in 1909 and is part of the country’s intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Defence Intelligence (DI). MI5 deals with internal security affairs, whilst MI6 is responsible for foreign intelligence.
The main threats MI5 tackles are include “terrorism, espionage, cyber threats and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”.
The Monarch’s last security services visit was in February 2019, to mark GCHQ’s centenary, while in 2017, she and Prince Philip opened a new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). It was, however, her first official MI5 visit.
Last year, The Duke of Cambridge spent a week with MI5 – as well as a stint at MI6 and GCHQ – working full-time alongside operatives and agents to get an understanding of their work as a future King.
Of course, due to the nature of the work at MI5, little of the event has been shared, but The Queen gave a short address at the visit, thanking staff for their hard work:
“I would like to take my visit here today as an opportunity to thank you all for the tireless work you do to keep our country safe. I am always struck by the remarkable resolve with which you carry out your vital role.
“There will no doubt continue to be significant threats and challenges ahead. But on each of my visits to MI5, I have been impressed by the way that you have adapted to the changing threats to our nation. Whether responding to the threats from the Nazis or the Cold War, domestic terrorism or the cyber sphere, you have always demonstrated the utmost commitment to your motto: “Regnum Defende” [to defend the kingdom].
“Because of the nature of your work, it is without public recognition, so it is on behalf of the country that I say to you all, thank you.”