Good for HRH! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/01/15/nchas15.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/01/15/ixhome.html 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."