Prince William revealed on Saturday, April 6, that he spent three weeks doing a secret internship with the U.K.’s national security and intelligence agencies.
The heir to the British throne, 36, spent a week each with MI5, GCHQ and MI6 (the secret intelligence service that fictional British super spy James Bond belongs to).
“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,” William, a former RAF helicopter pilot, said in a statement posted on Kensington Palace’s Instagram account.
“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,” the father of three continued. “They are driven by an unrivaled patriotism and dedication to upholding the values of this country. We all owe them deep gratitude for the difficult and dangerous work they do.”
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The Duke of Cambridge has concluded a three week attachment to the UK’s Security and Intelligence Agencies (MI5, MI6 and @GCHQ). The attachment comes as the three security services continue their vital work both at home and abroad to keep our people and our allies safe. The Duke of Cambridge said: “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.” The Duke’s assignment began with a week at the Secret Intelligence Service – MI6 – who work secretly overseas, developing foreign contacts and gathering intelligence that helps to make the UK safer and more prosperous. They help the UK identify and exploit opportunities as well as navigate risks to its national security, military effectiveness and economy. His second week was spent at the Security Service – MI5 – where he saw their work to protect our national security, particularly against threats from terrorism. He finished his assignment at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham, where he spent time with those using cutting-edge technology, technical ingenuity and wide-ranging partnerships to identify, analyse and disrupt threats. With the threat level for international terrorism in the UK set at SEVERE or above for the last five years, the Duke was keen to see first-hand the extraordinary work that staff across the Security and Intelligence Agencies do — visit @GCHQ to find out more about the work of Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham.
“The placements didn’t happen because of an invitation,” a source told Harper’s Bazaar. “This is a strong area of interest for William and something he personally asked to do and aides at Kensington Palace to arrange.”
The Telegraph reports that he is likely to have taken part in training exercises for new recruits to MI6, where they practice identifying which threats to investigate.
GCHQ’s head of counter-terrorism operations, who is identified only as “David,” told The Guardian that during William’s week with the agency, he learned how technology could be used to identify, analyze and disrupt threats.
“Having the Duke of Cambridge spend time with our teams was an incredible opportunity,” he said. “William worked exceptionally hard to embed himself in the team and comfortably held his own among some highly skilled analysts and operators. 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.”
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