Prince William has given a speech to British diplomats at the Foreign Office in London, a speech that many are calling an intervention in the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union.
In his speech, the future king said: “In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work.
“Right now, the big questions with which you wrestle – in the UN, Nato, the Middle East and elsewhere – are predicated on your commitment to working in partnership with others.”
Kensington Palace has denied that the Duke of Cambridge was endorsing the United Kingdom’s continued membership in the EU, although many people have interpreted it this way.
A palace spokesperson said: “This speech was not about Europe. He does not mention the word Europe once.”
Prince William’s speech has been compared with the 2014 speech given by Queen Elizabeth before the Scottish independence referendum where she asked those to “think very carefully about the future.”
Just like his grandmother, Prince William was careful not to give favour to one side or the other. He did show his support for the United Kingdom’s post-second world war foreign policy, the involvement in four multilateral organisations: Nato, the Commonwealth, and the UN. The Duke however, left out the EU.
A Royal source also spoke of the speech, saying: “Talking about ‘working in partnership’ and ‘our ability to unite in common action’ is not expressing a political view.
“He did not mention the EU once and any suggestion that he was referring to Britain’s EU membership is completely unfounded.”
Chief executive of the Leave.EU group, Liz Bilney, added: “His royal highness’s talk to diplomats about maintaining partnerships as crucial to our country’s interests is of course right, but it is taking a leap to suggest that this means we have to stay inside a failing institution like the European Union that does not always represent our interests or our views.
“Commentators with a keen eye might have noticed that he listed organisations he presumably felt valuable, such as Nato and the United Nations, but did not explicitly state the European Union.
“I could just as easily claim that this commission signalled Prince William believes we should not give any importance to the EU, but I would not wish to be so presumptuous.”
The full speech can be read on Kensington Palace’s website.