Charles visits US spy base RAF Menwith Hill

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The Prince of Wales has visited the top-secret US spy base RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire.

Charles travelled to the communications and intelligence site near Harrogate on Monday.

The base is largely used by personnel from the US National Security Agency (NSA), as well as staff from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The Prince of Wales with Sqn Ldr Geoff Dickson (left) and Gav Smith, director general of Technology at GCHQ, during a visit to RAF Menwith Hill (Michael Cook/RAF/PA)

He also toured the operations centre and was briefed on the station’s history, mission and partnerships.

Squadron Leader Geoff Dickson, Commanding Officer at RAF Menwith Hill, said after the visit: “The delight on the faces of our employees reflects the honour we all feel in seeing His Royal Highness come to RAF Menwith Hill to see first hand the work that we do, particularly in the year in which we are commemorating 60 years of operations.”

RAF Menwith Hill
RAF Menwith Hill is known for its giant radomes (John Giles/PA)

RAF Menwith Hill is known for its giant radomes, large white weatherproof globe structures, which are nicknamed the golf balls because of their white, dimpled appearance, and which were designed to shield and protect radar equipment.

The site was established in 1954 to act as a “communication intercept and intelligence support service” for both the UK and the US.

The Prince of Wales during a visit to the top-secret American spy base RAF Menwith Hill (Michael Cook/RAF/PA)

The base’s operations and location have frequently attracted controversy, with protesters objecting to the nature of its work and the presence of international military personnel.

No external photographers or reporters were invited to cover the visit, although social distancing arrangements have reduced the number of press covering royal engagements in person in recent months.

During his day trip to North Yorkshire Charles also met soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards at Catterick Garrison.

Charles is Colonel in Chief of the British Army’s armoured cavalry regiment.

He was pictured sheltering from the rain under a large umbrella as he inspected the troops

The prince’s visit comes as the Guards prepare to leave Catterick Garrison after 12 years to move to Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster next month.

Lieutenant Colonel Dom Davey, Commanding Officer of the RDG, said: “We are extremely honoured that our Colonel in Chief has the opportunity to meet with some of his Dragoons, particularly during this challenging time for us all.

“As a family regiment we have rallied round and supported each other as we prepare for our move south to Warminster.

“Having spent 12 years in North Yorkshire we are sad to leave, but our new home holds so many special opportunities with the impending arrival of Ajax.

“As Yorkshire and Ireland’s Cavalry, the Royal Dragoon Guards will never truly leave North Yorkshire.”

Ajax is the Army’s new multi-role, fully-digitised armoured fighting vehicle.

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