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On Her Majesty’s REAL secret service: The royals’ most dramatic moments with true-life Bonds


The Queen watched and waited within the darkened room. All of a sudden, an explosion rang out and an assault crew burst inside, springing, diving and rolling throughout the ground, firing bullets inches from her nostril.

She remained, in keeping with one witness, ‘completely unperturbed’.

The drama was, fortunately, not actual. This was an illustration placed on for the good thing about Her Majesty within the so-called Killing Room at SAS headquarters in Hereford the place troopers prepare to cope with hostage conditions. If it ever got here to it, that is how they might rescue her.

Within the pitch black, nothing may very well be seen however flashes of gunfire, and, as the strain soared, she did look nervously in the direction of the exits. However even now ‘her stiff higher lip by no means quivered’.

Charles too would have his day on the SAS Killing Home, to be familiarised with precisely what would occur if he and Diana ever wanted to be rescued.

The Queen’s fascination with spies and particular forces might come as a shock to many individuals, although they could have gotten an inkling from the day in July 2012 when the world’s most iconic intelligence officer very publicly arrived at Buckingham Palace

The SAS mocked up an assault on a constructing containing hostages, utilizing three Vary Rovers that carried ladders.

Troopers, it was defined to them, would shortly exit the autos, scale the ladders and throw particular stun grenades, earlier than liberating the hostages and killing the terrorists. The journey-loving Diana was delighted and volunteered to drive one of many Vary Rovers.

The train began and the Princess roared as much as the constructing at prime pace. Sadly, she hadn’t absolutely closed her facet window, and when the flash-bangs began to go off, a pellet got here in and caught in her hair — which caught hearth.

The officer together with her shortly brushed it away and began patting the Princess’s hair to cease it burning, whereas Prince Charles and his entourage laughed their heads off.

On a extra critical observe, the SAS stands in everlasting readiness to enter motion within the occasion of a royal kidnapping. After an intruder named Michael Fagan made his means into the Queen’s bed room at Buckingham Palace in 1982, the SAS target-mapped the entire community of royal palaces.

Each room in each palace was photographed from a number of instructions in order that in the event that they ever wanted to storm Sandringham or abseil down the entrance of Buckingham Palace, the troopers would know the exact format of every room and precise place of every chair or couch.

As well as, a particular police station was constructed contained in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Extra like a army bunker and screened by a mound of earth and a row of bushes, it has a direct line to the SAS together with a sequence of codewords to point the seriousness of any incident.

Marcus Sarjeant stepped out of the crowd and, unable to get hold of a real gun, shot a starting pistol at close range as the Queen rode side-saddle from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade

Marcus Sarjeant stepped out of the gang and, unable to pay money for an actual gun, shot a beginning pistol at shut vary because the Queen rode side-saddle from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade

Even so, the Palace defences might not be watertight. After the Fagan incident, a crew from the SAS made 5 makes an attempt to enter Buckingham Palace covertly to check its enhanced safety.

Apparently, every of the 5 makes an attempt succeeded and within the remaining raid they managed to raise a small silver ‘trophy’. Efforts to return the trophy failed, for the reason that Palace ‘denied all data’.

The Queen’s fascination with spies and particular forces might come as a shock to many individuals, although they could have gotten an inkling from the day in July 2012 when the world’s most iconic intelligence officer very publicly arrived at Buckingham Palace. 

Wearing his trademark tuxedo, he skipped up the central crimson staircase and, flanked by the royal corgis, entered a gilded room. At a desk within the nook sat the Queen.

‘Good night, Mr Bond,’ she stated, earlier than he adopted her down the steps and headed in the direction of a helicopter outdoors. Moments later, 007 and the Queen jumped from the plane in a dramatic parachute drop in the direction of the Olympic Park stadium in East London.

The group gasped as they vanished from sight, earlier than the Queen reappeared, carrying the identical pink costume, within the royal field.

The sequence — involving stunt doubles for the damaging bits —was the gorgeous spotlight of the London Olympic Video games opening ceremony. In additional than 50 years of Bond movies, the paths of 007 and the Royal Household have ceaselessly crossed. 

Certainly, Buckingham Palace as soon as tried to recruit Bond creator Ian Fleming as a speech-writer however he turned down the supply due to a conflict of personalities with the equerries he must cope with.

In the spring of 1981, she and Prince Philip visited the Shetland Islands for the opening of an oil terminal. But there was a major security failure when dense fog prevented many police officers from leaving the mainland in time to ‘sterilise’ the area

Within the spring of 1981, she and Prince Philip visited the Shetland Islands for the opening of an oil terminal. However there was a significant safety failure when dense fog prevented many law enforcement officials from leaving the mainland in time to ‘sterilise’ the realm

These momentary connections are removed from fantasy and, as an alternative, seize a fleeting glimpse of Britain’s most secret partnership — the British monarchy and the key providers.

Like her predecessors, the Queen isn’t any stranger to the true world of spies. Neither is she shy about expressing her opinion. Shortly after ascending the throne in 1952, she was discussing a hard Center Japanese chief with officers and quipped about assassinating him. She is claimed to have expressed her shock that ‘no one had discovered technique of placing one thing in his espresso’.

What’s extra, as a younger queen on the peak of the Chilly Warfare, she quickly discovered herself dragged into worldwide intrigue and spy scandals. By means of all of it, she was, as one in all her prime minsters Harold Macmillan put it, ‘extremely properly knowledgeable’.

The result’s that, 70 years later, she is a human library of intelligence historical past. Acquired over many years of studying intelligence paperwork, she is aware of extra state secrets and techniques than any residing particular person.

She knew in regards to the British nuclear weapons programme at a remarkably early stage. And she or he knew extra in regards to the Soviet mole, Anthony Blunt, nonetheless in her employment as Surveyor of the Queen’s Footage, than the prime minister.

Wild rumours Royals adored

The Royal Archives at Windsor are huge, partly as a result of they’re fed by the Authorities machine. Diplomats all around the globe are inspired to report back to the royals about royals.

Warwick Morris, a lowly third secretary in Paris within the early Seventies, remembers that there was a lot to inform. Many French folks have been fascinated by the British Royal Household, having performed away with their very own within the French Revolution.

Sure French newspapers and magazines corresponding to France Dimanche and Paris Match, in addition to the extra sensational ones, featured articles each week in regards to the royals. ‘These included outrageous and fictitious ones, like the entire Everton soccer crew having been in Princess Anne’s bed room at Buckingham Palace, or the Queen Mom being useless and having a residing double,’ remembers Morris.

The British Embassy used to ship a collection of ‘these scurrilous tales’ to Buckingham Palace occasionally.

By no means having bought any response, they finally wrote proposing to cease. All of a sudden a reply got here: ‘No, please don’t. The Household derives large leisure and amusement from what you ship. Preserve them coming!’

The very fact is that the Royal Household and the key providers have a lot in frequent. They’re two of Britain’s most necessary establishments. They’re small and secretive. They function prominently within the fashionable creativeness. They’re closely mythologised and sometimes misunderstood.

Our researches within the archives present for the primary time exactly how shut their relationship is. Finally some gentle has begun to penetrate into how they function collectively.

Throughout World Warfare II, King George VI was aware about all of the army secrets and techniques within the land. His daughter has continued her father’s fastidious curiosity in secret statecraft, notably within the weekly intelligence assessments she will get in her Purple Bins.

She is completely discreet about their For-HM-Eyes Solely contents. She additionally has face-to-face contact together with her intelligence providers, often assembly their heads to be briefed in particular person.

Lips are sealed about these encounters. When Stella Rimington, the primary publicly named chief of MI5, attended lunch at Buckingham Palace, the royal family helped her to flee by the again door as a way to keep away from the assembled reporters determined to know what a monarch may say to a spy chief. 

She additionally meets significantly courageous intelligence brokers from MI6 and MI5 — those that have secretly, and with out public credit score, risked their lives for her nation.

Oleg Gordievsky, the outstanding agent who offered such invaluable intelligence on the Soviets within the latter Chilly Warfare, was rewarded with a CMG (Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George), which is within the sovereign’s private reward.

The 2 MI6 officers who bodily exfiltrated him from Russia by way of Finland have been additionally handled to a personal viewers to inform her their hair-raising story. Every was awarded a secret OBE — being informed that they may not reveal their ornament for ten years.

She has additionally occasionally straight been concerned in secret Authorities manoeuvrings. Within the late Fifties, Britain’s affect within the Center East was declining as nationalism unfold and, behind the scenes, the key providers have been working frantically to cease the rot.

Iraq, a state with a younger constitutional monarch, was Britain’s closest ally within the area however its ruler, 23-year-old King Faisal, was being nudged in an anti-British path by his stunning bride-to-be, Princess Fadhila.

Simply 16, she was a pupil at Heathfield College, close to Ascot, and, by way of the International Workplace, the King’s pro-British uncle urged the Queen to take the lady underneath her wing. 

Making a beneficial impression of England would pay dividends in years to come back, the Queen was suggested. She agreed to play her half, inviting Fadhila to Windsor Fortress and taking her to the Ascot races as a part of a appeal offensive to win her over. It gave the impression to be working — till a couple of weeks later a army coup in Iraq ousted Faisal and he was killed.

Princess Fadhila was not in Baghdad on the time as she was getting ready for her wedding ceremony to Faisal the subsequent day, and so escaped together with her life. Nevertheless, her long-term utility to the British died amid the gunfire. The Queen had performed her greatest however to no avail.

Nevertheless, her Majesty’s fundamental interplay with the intelligence providers has been over safety — for her and her closest household. This has by no means been simple as a result of she has strict guidelines on what she’s going to and won’t conform to.

The Queen was sad a couple of 1986 proposal to erect boundaries round Buckingham Palace, together with the Queen Victoria memorial, which safety authorities warned may very well be used as a wonderful sniper place.

However she refused to be hidden from the general public. Early on in her reign, she determined that the establishment of royalty would wither and die if its present placeholders locked themselves away in a tower or hid behind strains of armour and shields.

She created all types of issues for her silent sentinels by demanding to be accessible and visual even in an period of rising worldwide terrorism.

She insists on being pushed slowly by way of crowds of onlookers to present them an opportunity to see her — not like many different heads of state who rush previous at prime pace to keep away from being a goal. Nor does she have motorbike outriders to escort her as a result of they might obscure her from the folks.

Not all within the Royal Household are as accommodating. Someday, returning in her modest motorcade by way of London to Buckingham Palace, the Queen discovered herself inexplicably caught in visitors.

All of a sudden there was the wail of police sirens and a protracted procession of motorbike outriders got here into view adopted by a Rolls-Royce travelling at excessive pace.

It was Princess Michael of Kent, recognized inside the household as ‘Princess Pushy’. The second confirmed the Queen’s view that there have been too many ‘minor royals’.

Given her refusal to close herself off, her safety (and that of her household) is vastly depending on secret intelligence and advance warning. Quite a lot of plots in opposition to Queen Elizabeth have gotten too shut for consolation.

Within the spring of 1981, she and Prince Philip visited the Shetland Islands for the opening of an oil terminal. However there was a significant safety failure when dense fog prevented many law enforcement officials from leaving the mainland in time to ‘sterilise’ the realm.

Because the nationwide anthem performed, an IRA bomb exploded in an influence station simply 500 yards from the Queen. It was a moist squib: few folks even seen; no accidents have been inflicted and the Queen was decidedly unruffled, not least as a result of she had no thought {that a} bomb had exploded till later.

The IRA have been disenchanted. That they had hoped to disrupt the ceremony on the very least, however nonetheless boasted afterwards to have efficiently breached the Queen’s safety. They added that the Queen would have been assassinated had the bomb been nearer. That they had a degree.

There was an extra slim squeak the next month when a fame-hungry teenager fired six blanks at her through the Trooping the Color ceremony. Marcus Sarjeant stepped out of the gang and, unable to pay money for an actual gun, shot a beginning pistol at shut vary because the Queen rode side-saddle from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade.

It was nothing greater than a fantasy assassination, however for a second it appeared very actual as, for a break up second, the Queen had stared down the barrel of Sarjeant’s gun.

Later the identical yr, whereas touring New Zealand, the Queen got here nearer to being assassinated when, as she stepped out of her Rolls-Royce, teenager Christopher Lewis fired a rifle in the direction of her from a abandoned bathroom cubicle 5 storeys above. The bullet missed.

The cubicle had not been Lewis’s first alternative of location. A police search had pressured him to delay his plans a couple of days earlier. His authentic alternative of taking pictures place was much better — and he would possible have hit the Queen. The authorities in New Zealand, embarrassed by the failure of its royal safety, performed down the incident.

They informed the British Press the loud bang was attributable to a visitors signal falling over, then, fumbling with the cover-up, modified their story to firecrackers.

As for British safety authorities, they didn’t be taught that something had even occurred in any respect till Lewis was jailed.

Slightly than attempting him for treason or assassination, prosecutors downgraded the costs to discharging a firearm in a public place, on the tenuous grounds that he had not been capable of finding an appropriate vantage level to kill the Queen.

However an unsolved thriller nonetheless hangs over this incident. Native intelligence discreetly investigated the assassination try however the authorities there by no means revealed Lewis’s true intent, maybe fearing the Queen wouldn’t return to the nation if she knew what had actually gone on…

Not lengthy after, it was Prince Charles within the firing line because the IRA tried to assassinate him and Princess Diana throughout a royal gala headlined by Duran Duran and Dire Straits on the Dominion Theatre in Central London.

Terrorist leaders, determined for revenge after the dying of ten starvation strikers, instructed Sean O’Callaghan to plant a bomb close to the royal field.

Fortuitously for Charles and Diana, O’Callaghan was an informant working for the Irish police. However they have been uncertain about how far to let the planning develop earlier than stepping in to make arrests. Stepping into too early would deprive them of proof; getting into too late would danger royal lives.

To make issues worse, the Irish police feared shedding management of the plot and so refused to inform their British colleagues. They hoped to make the arrests earlier than O’Callaghan set foot in England by raiding an IRA assembly in Dublin, discovering incriminating proof, and convicting everybody current of IRA membership.

Sadly, the police bungled the arrests by making a lot noise outdoors the door that the targets had ample time to burn incriminating paperwork.

With out adequate proof, all bar one acquired bail. Remarkably, O’Callaghan nonetheless had the chance to journey to England and reached London with a false passport, faux driving licence and £2,000 money.

He even bought so far as the flimsy royal field contained in the outdated theatre. The plan was to plant a bomb within the males’s bathroom straight behind the field. 

O’Callaghan knew that such a bomb will surely kill the Prince and Princess — and lots of others too. He wanted to discover a means out with out making the IRA suspicious of him.

With the explosives resulting from arrive in London in 5 days, the Irish police lastly briefed Scotland Yard, which, in flip, leaked a narrative to the Press that an IRA assassination crew, headed by a person nicknamed The Jackal, had arrived in England.

The revelation prevented O’Callaghan from going forward and allowed him to quietly go away England along with his cowl nonetheless intact.

Duran Duran solely came upon in regards to the plot years later. The band’s drummer Roger Taylor described being informed about it because the ‘scariest second’ of his life.

Tailored from The Secret Royals: Spying And The Crown From Victoria To Diana by Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac, revealed by Atlantic on October 7 at £25. (c) 

Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac 2021. To order a replica for £22.50 (supply legitimate to 10/9/21; UK P&P free), go to mailshop.co.uk/books or name 020 3308 9193.





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