Prince William appears to back Britain's EU membership
Prince William on Tuesday said that Britain's tradition of international cooperation was "essential" to its security, in a speech interpreted by British media as supporting its continued membership of the European Union (EU).
The prince, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, spoke at the Foreign Office as Prime Minister David Cameron met with European chiefs in Brussels before a summit this week where he hopes to secure reforms before an in/out referendum on Britain's membership expected this year.
"For centuries Britain has been an outward-looking nation," said the prince. "We have a long, proud tradition of seeking out allies and partners.
"We've always sought to explore what is beyond the horizon, that sense of mission and curiosity is something I know continues to drive our economy... armed forces and diplomatic services.
"Our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential, it is the bedrock of our security and prosperity."
A spokesman for his Kensington Palace office insisted of the speech: "This was not about Europe."
The royal family does not usually intervene in political issues due to its constitutional position but has been known to issue carefully worded pronouncements on sensitive issues.
Before the 2014 referendum on whether Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom, the queen said people should "think very carefully" about their decision while chatting to members of the public.
It later emerged that her words were agreed by her private secretary and the head of Britain's civil service.
Cameron held talks with European Parliament chief Martin Schulz on Tuesday to drum up support for his controversial reform agenda ahead of a crunch summit Thursday and Friday.
© 2016 AFP