Last Thursday The Duke of Cambridge made a secret visit to the country’s most secretive building to witness how the communications of alleged terrorists and foreign spy organisations are being monitored.
The visit to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire was a first for Prince William.
William spent approximately four hours learning about the maximum security listening station that monitors what transpires electronically throughout the world. He also met with various staff during his visit.
For obvious reasons, the official visit was not publicised.
The visit comes after reports that some of the Royals have been alerted to change their email addresses for fear of hacking. They have also been advised to curb the use of social media to avoid the possible threat of being compromised as well.
Perhaps the trip would have remained the secret it initially intended to be had local workers not spotted Her Majesty’s Sikorsky S-76C helicopter at the Gloucester airport.
“The Prince paid a visit to GCHQ on March 19. As it was a private visit, we cannot go into the details of his itinerary,” A GCHQ spokesman said.
A Kensington Palace would not give any details of the visit other than saying it was ‘a private visit’ which was in ‘an official capacity’.
The spokeswoman added: “The visit was in a private capacity. The travel costs for it will fall within the official Royal Travel budget.”
This is not the first unannounced visit to a GCHQ building. Last July, William’s father, Prince Charles, visited GCHQ Scarborough.
Patron of the Intelligence Services, The Prince met, in private, the men and women who work at the station. He also had the chance to see some historical elements, which correlate with the site’s 100-year history.
Charles had the opportunity to look into the original bunker used up until the 1970s as well as the station’s museum which houses various listening and decoding devices including an Enigma machine.
Since 2011, Charles has awarded The Prince of Wales Intelligence Community Awards to members of the Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service and Government Communications Headquarters at St James’s Palace.
Gloucestershire Airport is home to Bond Air Services where William will soon take on his job as a helicopter pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity.
William did not visit the company during his time on Thursday.
Photo Credit: UK in Japan FCO