Prince William makes secret visit to GCHQ spy base after Royals warned over computer hacking
The Spook of Cambridge: Wills makes secret visit to GCHQ spy base after Royals warned over computer hacking
Duke of Cambridge made a top secret ‘private visit’ to GCHQ on Thursday
Trip comes after fears young royals could be targeted by hackers and spies
Questions asked about Prince William’s use of a publicly funded helicopter
He was flown from London’s Kensington Palace to Gloucestershire airport
By ABUL TAHER FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 23:07, 21 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:14, 22 March 2015
Prince William has made a top secret visit to Britain’s most secretive building, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The Duke of Cambridge made the unannounced ‘private visit’ on Thursday to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – the maximum security ‘listening station’ which tracks electronic traffic of terrorists and spy agencies around the world.
The Duke’s first ever trip to GCHQ, housed in a doughnut-shaped building in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed that he and other young Royals were being advised to change their email addresses and cut back on social media activities over fears they could be targeted by foreign spies and hackers.
But questions were asked last night about the Duke’s use of a publicly funded Royal helicopter to make the trip, as it was not an official public engagement and was not announced in the Palace’s Court Circular.
The Duke was flown from London’s Kensington Palace to Gloucestershire airport on the Queen’s helicopter Flight, funded by the taxpayer, and which is supposed to be only used for official engagements by the Royals.
Under Government rules, the Royals have to pay for their own private visits.
But last night Kensington Palace declined to comment on the reasons for the trip or confirm whether the Prince would pay back the estimated £8,000 travel costs.
A Palace source initially described the 200-mile round trip as a ‘private visit’ but later suggested it was ‘official’, and so could possibly be paid from the taxpayer-funded Royal Travel Budget.
Kensington Palace and GCHQ refused to say whom he met, or what he saw. But it is believed the Prince met the new head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, and also saw the agency’s code breakers at work, monitoring internet and communications traffic to pick up terrorist threats.
Other members of the Royal family have previously visited GCHQ, which was opened by the Queen in 2004.
A GCHQ spokesman said yesterday: ‘Prince William paid a private visit to GCHQ on March 19. As it was a private visit we can’t go into further details of what his itinerary involved.’