A Grand Day Out (Or fifteen…)

We have written elsewhere about what a pain in the neck having official visitors to an intelligence agency can be. Now the UK has taken this idea to an extreme.

In a press release dated 7 April, Buckingham Palace revealed that heir to the throne, Prince William, had spent three weeks with the UK intelligence services, SIS, MI5 and GCHQ, one week with each.

Now, Prince William seems like a good guy who does a lot of good work for charity. But if he can spend three weeks pootling around the headquarters of each of the services he must have a lot of spare time on his hands. And, seeing as the Prince could not talk about any of his time with the Services, what was the point of it all? After three whole weeks of him getting under everyone’s feet, all the British taxpayer got was a terse, ten line statement about what a “humbling” experience it was and what a jolly good job he thought everyone was doing.

What a waste of time.

Someone in a service PR department must have thought that this was a good idea, but it is simply counter-productive. By inviting a member of the Royal Family, someone who has no responsibility nor accountability for the intelligence services, the event merely reinforces the impression that intelligence work in the UK is a sort of private parlour game for the upper classes. That is exactly the sort of atmosphere that allowed Burgess, Philby and Maclean to infiltrate the British intelligence services almost eighty years ago.

Little, it seems, has changed.

PS There are rumours that the same PR numpty is considering a repeat of this experiment, except this time inviting a trusted celebrity in order to appeal to the young. Lord, help us all.

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