A Princely Wedding–Royal Security for the 21st Century


On April 29, 2011, Prince William will marry Kate Middleton, the first “commoner” to marry into the royal family in more than 350 years. Amidst the media frenzy, the pomp and grandeur will be a well-planned and executed security strategy. Part of Prince William’s personal security detail from 1990-94, Burrell expects the prince’s wedding to be one of the most expensive security operations ever, likely cost $40-50 million.

Almost 30 years ago when Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, were married on July 29, 1981, more than one million people filled the streets of London for two days. Over four thousand police officers and military personnel provided security along the route. Sunstates Security President Glenn Burrell was there in an official capacity on that day in 1981 as part of Scotland Yard’s team at Buckingham Palace, and he will be there again in April, but not in an official capacity. He describes the intriguing security comparison between then and now in this way;

Providing security for a high visibility event such as this in 2011 will be so different to that of 1981. The chief threat in the early 80’s was the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the only active terrorist group in the United Kingdom in those days, but even they saw any attempt on the lives of Charles and Diana as political suicide. One of the main tactics used by anti-terrorist police at that time was to create a ‘ring of steel’ aimed primarily to prevent escape, which proved effective when the prospective perpetrator required an escape route.

With the advent of foreign and ‘Home Grown’ extremists who are willing to die in the name of ‘martyrdom’, security in 2011 will look very different indeed by being much more proactive as opposed to reactive. I expect a lot of obvious overt security to be present such as anti snipers on rooftops, helicopters with hi-tech surveillance equipment scanning the route as well as many thousands of uniformed police and military personnel. I would also expect to see a heightened close protection detail (one thing that was missing in 1981). Covertly, there will be much more activity this time in the form of undercover personnel within the crowds and known targets being monitored and tracked. The modern era relies much more heavily on gathering intelligence and disseminating that information to keep one step ahead, Scotland Yard are masters at this and I feel totally confident in their ability to ensure things go seamlessly.

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