[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Palace lessons to be learned
Peter Hunt
By Peter Hunt
BBC royal correspondent

Buckingham Palace
A fraudulent job application exposed security gaps

Ryan Parry's revelations about breakfast cereals served from Tupperware boxes would have been an excruciating read for members of the Royal Family.

Last year, the tabloid reporter had his eye glued to the royal keyhole in the weeks leading up to President Bush's stay in Buckingham Palace.

By contrast, Thursday's official report is more palatable. It is not a damning indictment of recruitment practices in the household. The language is understated and the conclusions predictable.

However, some of its observations are telling.

Its authors say the main significance of what happened was that it showed existing procedures were not sufficient to expose a fraudulent and dishonest job application - and this weakness could be exploited by terrorists to endanger the Queen.

It means, in future, Doris the chambermaid will probably escape intense scrutiny, but anyone who regularly serves royals their supper could face new checks
Even before the ink was dry, the Palace had acted. The vetting of new recruits has been tightened. The Security Commission has called for wider checks to be carried out on job applicants and that is sure to happen.

It means, in future, Doris the chambermaid will probably escape intense scrutiny, but anyone who regularly serves royals their supper could face new checks.

Bank statements might be asked for because someone who was heavily in debt could be susceptible to bribery.

Overseeing these and any other changes will be the Palace's new director of security, a former army officer, Brigadier Jeffrey Cook.

He is not there to order the SAS to storm the Palace while the guests are taking tea.

Life-long friends and minor royals may have to suffer the inconvenience of bringing their passport to future royal events to prove their identity
Rather he will be the main contact for all security matters. His task will be to make sure all the various agencies, including the police, MI5 and MI6, work together.

Parry the Palace footman was not an isolated royal security lapse in 2003.

In the months before, a stand-up comedian, dressed in a peach ball gown and wearing a false beard, gatecrashed Prince William's birthday party at Windsor Castle.

Aaron Barshak claimed he was a "comedy" Osama Bin Laden. He managed to deliver a brief speech to startled guests and plant two kisses on the cheeks of the second -in-line to the throne.

Both incidents had comic and chilling aspects. What if the journalist and the comedian had been terrorists?

It has inevitably led to soul searching in royal circles about how you keep the Queen both accessible and safe. Procedures will be tightened.

Whether they like it or not, life-long friends and minor royals may have to suffer the inconvenience of bringing their passport to future royal events to prove their identity.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"All those involved in royal security are on notice that they must now work together to ensure there are no more mistakes"



SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Royal security breach
20 Nov 03  |  UK


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific