Prince William revealed this weekend that he just completed an assignment that involved going undercover with U.K. spy agencies, People is reporting. The future king described being among his country’s front lines against terrorism and espionage as a “humbling experience.”
He may very well be one of the most recognizable men in Europe, if not the entire world. But that didn’t stop him from going deep undercover with three separate spy agencies over the course of three weeks. It remains unclear just how deep undercover he went; and indeed, considering the extremely secretive nature of international espionage, that information will likely never be revealed. But considering that he’s a high-profile member of the Royal Family, and that he didn’t undergo the extensive training that U.K. espionage agents go through, it’s highly unlikely that he actually did any real field work.
Instead, he spent his three-week assignment watching, learning, asking questions, getting a feel for what his country’s intelligence operations are up to on a day-to-day basis.
“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.”
It was a three-week assignment, and the future king spent his first week with MI6, the true James Bond-type operatives who secretly work overseas, developing contacts with foreign agents, gathering intelligence, and getting that information back to London, where it’s used to help protect the country’s interests, against terrorism specifically.
His second week was spent at MI5, the U.K.’s spy agency that is less about covert operatives on the ground and more about support for those operatives. There, he leaned about the more technical side of spying, such as surveillance and analysis.
His third and final week was spent with GCHQ in Cheltenham, the U.K.’s “headquarters” for surveillance, learning how operatives listen in on communications in order to analyze and disrupt threats.
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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.
William’s attachment to his country’s intelligence agencies comes at a time when their operations are crucial to the country, NBC News reports. The country’s terrorism threat level has been at “severe” or above for the past five years, which means that at a terrorist attack is all but expected.
Earlier this month, William went to New Zealand on behalf of his 92-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in order to honor the victims of that country’s recent terrorist attack, which saw 50 people killed in a shooting at a Christchurch mosque.