SpyCast 2.6.24
Ep 619 | 2.6.24

“The British Monarchy and Secret Intelligence” with Rory Cormac and Richard Aldrich

Show Notes


Rory Cormac (X) and Richard Aldrich join Andrew (XLinkedIn) to discuss intelligence and the British Monarchy. The links between the royals and espionage prove the Crown to be far more than just a figurehead.  

What You’ll Learn


  • Prince William’s internship with British Intelligence
  • How Elizabeth II knew perhaps more secrets that anyone else in history
  • King Charles' love of intelligence  
  • Queen Victoria as Spymaster
  • MI5, MI6, and the Diana conspiracies


  • Secrets within secrets 
  • Power and knowledge

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

This week on SpyCast, Andrew was joined by Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac, authors of the new book Crown, Cloak, and Dagger: The British Monarchy and Secret Intelligence from Victoria to Elizabeth II. Richard Aldrich, a Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick, and Rory Cormac, a Professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham, have previously collaborated on royal research for the book The Secret Royals (2021). You thought spies were secretive? Ask Rory and Richard about researching royal spy craft. 

In this episode, the trio discussed the many different approaches and ways that British royals utilized intelligence during their reigns. With a special focus on Great Britain’s longest-serving monarchs Victoria and Elizabeth II, this episode of SpyCast will show you a secret side of the crown you’ve never seen before. 


While Elizabeth II is the UK’s longest reigning monarch with a tenure of 70 years and 214 days, she is closely beat out for the world title by Louis XIV of France, who ruled for 72 years and 110 days. The Sun King’s reign from 1643 to 1715 saw Robert Hooke’s discovery of the cell using a microscope, Isaac Newton’s publication of the Law of Gravity, and the passage of the Act of Union – a merger that officially established the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

Quotes of the Week

 ”What struck me the most was how much access Queen Elizabeth II had, how much she knew … And I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that she probably knew more state secrets than any human being who has ever walked the history of the earth, because she had access to everything for 70 odd years.” – Rory Cormac 



*Spotlight Resource*

  • Crown, Cloak, and Dagger: The British Monarchy and Secret Intelligence from Victoria to Elizabeth II, R. Cormac & R. J. Aldrich (Georgetown University Press, 2023) 


*Beginner Resources*



  • The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy, R. Hardman (Pegasus Books, 2024)
  • Gilded Youth: A History of Growing Up in the Royal Family: From the Tudors to the Cambridges, T. Quinn (Pegasus Books, 2023)
  • The Secret Royals: Spying and the Crown, from Victoria to Diana, R. Cormac & R. J. Aldrich (Atlantic Books, 2021)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*

  • Have a sweet tooth? So did many queens. Several delectable desserts have been named by or for British royals. Try these recipes: 
  • Victoria Sponge, named for Queen Victoria’s favorite afternoon tea accompaniment
  • Charlotte Cake, supposedly named after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  • Queen Elizabeth Cake, first published in the 1953 Coronation Cook Book and served at Elizabeth II’s coronation