Her Majesty to Mark Centenary of Government Code and Cypher School

Queen Elizabeth II
QUEEN ELIZABETH II arrives to open Coram's central London campus The Queen Elizabeth II Centre.


Thursday 14th February 2019

Her Majesty The Queen will visit Watergate House on 14th February 2019 to mark the centenary of GCHQ, the UK’s Intelligence, Security and Cyber Agency.

The Queen’s visit to Watergate House – the Agency’s first home as the ‘Government Code and Cypher School’ and a former top secret location – will be the first public event marking the centenary of GCHQ.

During the visit, Her Majesty will encounter two generations of women in the world of cyber security, meeting Ruth Bourne, a Bletchley Park codebreaking veteran and Legion d’Honneur recipient, alongside the winners of CyberFirst, a GCHQ competition for girls aged 12 to 13 to help ensure women are better represented in the cyber workforce of tomorrow. Also present will be the grandchildren of Alastair Denniston, the first head of GC&CS in 1919. To celebrate the centenary, The Queen will also view a series of historical artefacts spanning GCHQ’s history.

The Queen will meet staff members from across GCHQ, as well as individuals from BGF (Business Growth Fund) whose new UK head office is currently based at Watergate House.

On departure, Her Majesty will unveil a commemorative plaque to mark Watergate House as GCHQ’s first home and to commemorate 100 years since its formation and the important role it has played in post First World War history.

After the success of signals intelligence used during World War I, GCHQ was formed in 1919, under the original name of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). The cover name of GCHQ was given in 1939 to better disguise its secret work before the headquarters moved to Cheltenham in 1950.

Today as one of Britain’s three intelligence agencies, GCHQ tackles the most serious cyber, terrorist, criminal, and state threats. Alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, its aim is to make the UK a safe place to live and do business online.

Her Majesty The Queen has previously visited GCHQ on a number of occasions, most recently in 2017 for the opening of the organisation’s new National Cyber Security Centre in London. Her Majesty has also visited GCHQ’s Cheltenham headquarters on three previous occasions in 2008, 2004 and 1995.

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