Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Being the Security Agent-in-Command During the 1985 Visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to America


When Prince Charles and Princess Diana of the United Kingdom came to visit the United States in 1985, Dennis Williams of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) volunteered to be Agent-in-Command (AIC) of the British Royals’ security detail.  Ahead of the two-week visit, Williams faced a challenge convincing State Department management that he needed a full complement of 35 security agents. In the end, Williams prevailed — and during the visit he found the heir-apparent to the British monarchy “an easy guy and fun to work with.”  Williams, who was hired by Diplomatic Security in 1974, served in several notable positions throughout his tenure with the Department of State. His career included stints as Director of Physical Security Programs, and as Director of DS’s Office of Professional Development. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Diplomatic Security Training Center in 1988. Williams was interviewed by Peter Eicher in August 2007.

Read Dennis Williams’s full oral history HERE.

Excerpts:
“Actually, he was an easy guy and fun guy to work with.”

 

Working as Prince Charles’s AIC during a visit to the United States: “I assigned myself as his AIC (Agent in Command). I went forward to my boss who was the director of protection and said, ‘We need 35 agents.’ I got a phone call from my boss who said, ‘Could you come up here to the front office and kind of explain why you need 35 agents?’ So I have the director of protection here, and I’ve got the director of investigations. I’m saying, ‘And the follow car has this many people, along with the advance car, etc.’ and I’m trying to explain how you use 35 agents. I’m literally walking them through it, as if they were kindergarteners, because I know he doesn’t understand any of this. After spending maybe 20 minutes of explaining why I needed this number of agents on the traveling team, and then more for the advances to include next city advances, I am still getting that glazed eyes look. Finally, he looks at me and he says, ‘Yeah, yeah, but can you do it with six?’ to which I said, and I shall put this in the correct language, ‘Fuck it. You do it with six!’ I’m thinking, ‘Do we want Charles dead? Do we really want him killed, because of our inability to do this correctly?’ That was the kind of management we really had back in the good old days – that weren’t so good. Ultimately I got the 35 agents I asked for. I would have refused to do the detail with only six agents. That’s just asking for trouble.”

 

“I wasn’t even worried about the IRA. The IRA has never committed a crime in this country against a Brit. Never. The reason was there’s so much support for the IRA from Irish immigrants and those of Irish decent here in this country, that the IRA wouldn’t endanger their support by killing someone like Prince Charles in this country. That would jeopardize the money supply in an instant. So kill him there, in the U.K. that is, but don’t kill him here. I wasn’t worried about that. When you have somebody like Prince Charles you worry about crazies. The people like Prince Charles and highly notable figures, whether it’s Britney Spears or it’s Prince Charles, Princess Diana, attract crazies. There’s your biggest threat…the unknown. I’m not worried about a terrorist group; I’m worried about some crazy who believes if he kills Prince Charles, if he kills Diana, they’ll live together in eternity forever. I mean something…”

 

“What I remember is meeting him (Prince Charles) up in New York, and we brought him down a special jet way and I remember about half way down the jet way he stopped, turned around, and said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m Dennis Williams, Prince Charles.’ He said, ‘What are you going to be doing?’ I said, ‘I’m going to be the agent-in-charge of your protective detail for the next two weeks,’ and he said, ‘I’m sorry for you’, and we went down and got into the limo. Actually, he was an easy guy and fun guy to work with. In fact, somewhere over on my bookshelf there’s a photograph of Prince Charles that he gave me. I actually kept it because it was kind of a special fun thing to do. He was very easy to work with, and he listened to what we told him and what we wanted him to do. He was pleasant to be with, he’s pleasant to be around, and rather easy to chat with.”

Drafted by Tyler Ventura

TABLE OF CONTENTS HIGHLIGHTS

Education

     BA North Central College                                                                                                           1964-1968

Hired by Diplomatic Security                                                                                            1974

     Tokyo, Japan-Assistant Regional Officer                                                                                1976-1978

     United States Department of State-Office of Protection-Deputy Director                       1982-1985    

     United States Department of State-Director of International Programs                          1992-1995

 

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