Prince Charles saved career of Sandhurst commander

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Lancashire Hussar, Jan 15, 2006.

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  1. Good for HRH!

    Prince Charles 'saved career of Sandhurst commander'
    By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter
    (Filed: 15/01/2006)

    The Prince of Wales personally intervened to save the job of the commanding officer of Sandhurst after a serious security breach when Prince Harry joined the military academy.

    Prince Charles wrote a letter of support and spoke to senior Government officials to spell out the high regard he has for Major General Andrew Ritchie, the commandant of Sandhurst, and to say that he thought it would be wrong for him to lose his job.

    Under threat: Major General Andrew Ritchie

    The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that some senior Government officials felt that "heads should roll" after a fake bomb was smuggled into Sandhurst by a newspaper reporter, who claimed to have spent nine hours on the premises.

    John Reid, the Defence Secretary, was said to be "seething" over the incompetence of the Army and publicly condemned Sandhurst over the incident, although defence sources say he was not one of those calling for the commandant's dismissal.

    According to senior sources, Prince Charles learnt that the commandant's position was under threat and felt that it would be wrong for Gen Ritchie to be made a scapegoat for the failings of others.

    The Sunday Telegraph has been told that the Prince was so determined that Gen Ritchie should not be forced to step down that he made "high-level" phone calls of support and followed them up with a hand-written letter to the commandant in which he praised the work he had done at Sandhurst. According to senior officials close to Gen Ritchie, the commandant was "enormously grateful" to have had the backing of Prince Charles during the crisis last June.

    "John Reid had given Sandhurst both barrels, but Prince Charles was incredibly supportive at a time when General Ritchie was feeling particularly isolated and vulnerable. The general knew he received the backing of the Prince at a time when he wasn't getting much support from elsewhere.

    "The Prince has a lot of respect for General Ritchie and his work. He did not think it was fair that the commandant should bear the full brunt of the backlash. The Prince has never looked upon Sandhurst as an entirely closed, secure facility on a par, say, with a nuclear defence depot. He felt the blame for the incident lay as much with the perpetrators [the Sun] as the academy."

    Major General Ritchie greets Prince William and Prince Charles
    The royal intervention explains the warm welcome that Gen Ritchie gave Prince Charles last Sunday when he went to Sandhurst to accompany Prince William on his arrival at the military academy to begin his Army training. Prince William, 23, was among 270 recruits beginning a 44-week-long training course at Sandhurst at the site in Camberley, Surrey.

    The Sun ran a front-page story in June last year, the month after Prince Harry joined Sandhurst to begin his officer training. The newspaper claimed it had exposed the "ludicrously lax security at the base, which makes Harry a sitting duck for a terrorist".

    The paper's reporter said he had strolled around Sandhurst for hours carrying a fake bomb and was not seriously challenged at any time. He photographed documents on walls detailing Harry's routine and said he had filmed the Prince marching with other rookie soldiers. The newspaper had gained access to Sandhurst after the reporter posed as a student who wanted to gain access to the academy's library in order to research the causes of the first Gulf war.

    Within hours of the newspaper's revelations, Gen Ritchie had taken personal charge of security and was at the main gate at 7.30am the next day to supervise matters. He ordered Gurkhas to be posted at both ends of the prince's accommodation block to protect the royal officer cadet while he slept.

    Gen Ritchie ordered a sweep of the academy and its 450 acres of grounds. Officer cadets were seen strolling around the woodland and open ground with SA80 rifles, while other soldiers with mirrors were checking under vehicles.

    At the time, Mr Reid did not hide his anger. "I have demanded an immediate investigation into this serious security breach. I have instructed Sandhurst to change their procedures to prevent a recurrence," he said publicly. Privately, Mr Reid was understood to be even more furious over the embarrassment caused by the security breach.

    A spokesman for Clarence House declined to discuss Prince Charles's intervention yesterday. "We never discuss the Prince's personal correspondence or his personal phone calls," he said.

    A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "Following the incident in June, the MoD, with Maj-Gen Ritchie, took all possible steps to review and tighten security at Sandhurst. Maj-Gen Ritchie had and continues to have the full support of the Secretary of State and senior military.

    "He carries out his duties commendably in difficult circumstances under the media spotlight. It is the department's clear intention that the princes do not suffer from further intrusion and media speculation."
  2. What?! The ruling classes of britain displaying back-bone!? no way. Good for him actually, hes really improved his image in my eyes actually over last few years

    Funny how they're so keen for heads to roll despite there being the biggest collective streaks of piss in Britain....but hey little things like responsibility and integrity are beneath our dear government
  3. Couldn't agree more, look at the Education Department for instance!
  4. Easy to do, when you know someone can't fight back. No doubt CGS and CDS backed Gen Ritchie all the way...

    I look forward to Dr Reid's public condemnation of the incompetence of the DPA and of the Treasury, who have had a far greater negative effect on the military. Won't be holding my breath, however.
  5. If this article truely portrays the real goings on, then John Reid has acted disgracefully.

    It is all to easy for government officials to sit in Whitehall etc and condemn the acts of senior ranking British Officers and call for their heads at times of 'minor' crisis.

    The ones they should really be 'hung out to dry', is that of the media. It is them (The Scum) who have acted in a totally irresponsible manner, and they are the ones that have placed, Prince Harry, and now William, as well as all the other cadets at RMAS in danger. They are the ones who should be feeling the heat of the Government and I'm sure Prince Charles will not be writing letters of support to the editor!!!!

    It is also of particular note that the appointment of Gen Ritchie, would have had to have governmental clearance prior to taking up his post, as the Government would have known full well that both Princes William and Harry would have been attending RMAS while he was commandant. So I either suggest they look at their selection process (for governmental positions as well) or be prepared to stand by and support the Senior military figures when we have minor hiccups - just like they do with thier own!!!!!
  6. Calling for the head of a senior and well respected Officer for lax security procedures, whilst at the same time allowing Gary Glitter and his mates to teach in schools. Smacks just slightly of double standards
  7. Prince Charles - there's a bloke with a bit of influence, service background, not afraid to upset people.
    Wonder if we could talk to him about running a sort of Federation for the Army sort of thing?
  8. As I recall, the reporter gained access to RMAS by claiming to be a researcher, who wished to use the library. Following a few phone calls, he was given permission to enter the unit and subsequently presented himself at the guardroom, where he was given a pass and directed to the library, unescorted. He was therefore given the run of the unit.

    Call it what you like, it was very poor security. There have been enough intrusions onto military units by (not very clever) tricks of this sort, for commanders to have got a grip of the problem by now. Are we to believe the Commandant had no knowledge that researchers were allowed to use the library within RMAS? Did he ever question what measures were in place to verify the bona fides of visitors to his unit? To his credit, he seems to have done a remarkable job of closing the stable door, after the horse had bolted. Perhaps his removal would have concentrated the minds of the many commanders who do not appear to give a toss about the security of their units, particularly if it means the slightest inconvenience for them, their wives, their dinner guests, their daughters' ponies et al.
  9. Seems to me that where ever the princes are based in future its going to mean lots of extra guard duty for the soldiers.

    Good on Charles though, nice to see some leadership from the top.
  10. My guess is that security at Sandhurst was lax to begin with. It would be alot more difficult for a journalist to gain access to one of the army's main troop installations. Just my guess.
  11. My old unit did exactly that...within days it was tasked to patrol the grounds and entrance gates. The lads were well up for it as you can imagine!
  12. Why, because they let some guy who is still at Uni pass through the gates of Sandhirst? Piffle. It's the Army they joined, they haven't asked to be locked in a secure unit for the next 5 years. The story was just scaremongering, and a cheap front page. The Sun should be taken to court, not agreed with.
  13. Well, if he was a student, that's all right then. In fact, why bother controlling entry to military units at all? Just make RMAS and its grounds a public park, with the new motto "Adveho Unus , Adveho Totus" (come one, come all). While they're at it, they could ditch force protection from the curriculum too.
  14. The problem with a ´balanced´,security,is knowing who should get in,and those who should be better scrutinized.I worked for the yanks,100% ID card checks,results, when I did what the dumb MPe6-e7s wanted,traffic jams back to the Autobahn,10 k´s away.

    Now nearly 20 years later,it´s got worse,I get searched 2 or 3 times a night,sometimes by the same guy,why,100% check on taxis.Leave the guests outside the gate?in minus 20%C and a 300 mtr walk to the hotel.

    I have had,till now,no problems with OBL,but these guards are really pissing me off,5mins standing around,with all doors and boot open;Whose the terrorist?

    The guards at RMAS,used their own commom sense,without which,the whole complex would grind to a halt,with queues of tradesmen,office workers,and squaddies winding back down the road to town.If the guy was suspicious,he wouldn´t have got in.
  15. On the Joint Warfare course ar Hamworthy many years ago, I caught a cab back to Hamworthy with some of the boxheads. Boxhead Colonel asked (told) the taxi driver to take us to the Mess, and the driver said 'They won't let me in'.

    Pulled up at the gate, boxie opened window, flashed ID and said to the Guard 'I am Colonel Whatever, I am going to the Mess'. To my surprise Bootie slammed to attention presented arms and the gate opened and we drove to the Mess. Guess who I tried to get a lift home with after that.