Her Majesty’s Secret Service and its Relationship to James Bond

28 Nov

1st. Article of a 6 week Series: The Royal Family’s Influence on Pop Culture 

With this year being the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II, we decided to look at the Royal Family and their impact in pop culture. Easing our way into it, we’ll look at Her Majesty’s Secret Service (who help provide intelligence to her protection team) and James Bond who is also celebrating 50 years of films (the Queen has attended three premiers and she had Bond escort her to the opening ceremony of the Olympics!).

Click here to watch Queen being escorted by James Bond to the Olympics.

Much of the inspiration for the James Bond character was based on the secret agents that Ian Fleming (the author) met while he was a Naval Intelligence Officer during the Second World War, with an addition of some of his own tastes and experience’s. [1] Of course he used artistic license to create a more dramatic story too. The reality (even then but more so for today) is a bit more mundane!

Bond works for MI6 (Military Intelligence Section 6) but its actual name is SIS (Secret Intelligence Service). A reorganization of military intelligence during the First World War it was referred to as MI6, which became a more popular name with the public and the media. There is no “M” but a “C,” which comes from the first director Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming who used to often  initial to sign things. [2]

Also agent’s roles are often not as high octane or as luxurious as Bond. Most of the time is spent gathering, analyzing and sorting information. Sometimes it is spent trying to persuade foreign citizens who are in position to hear things to become spies for them. Of course it’s natural to assume there have been some missions like Bond’s (a lot less glamorous though), however we will probably never find out about the majority of them! Agents don’t carry guns; they will work with a unit of SAS (Special Air Service, which is the branch of Special Forces in the British Army) if protection is needed. Nor do they have a “license to kill.” All of this needs to be authorized by the Foreign Secretary and must be within the UK law. Despite the differences though, the service does enjoy Bond films! [3]



[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inspirations_for_James_Bond

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Intelligence_Service

[3] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0e76851c-1f7c-11e2-841c-00144feabdc0.html

88 Responses to “Her Majesty’s Secret Service and its Relationship to James Bond”

  1. Comic Relief November 28, 2012 at 8:24 PM #


    I learned a lot from this article. I did not know a great deal of this but my appreciation for the Queen grows everyday.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

      Thank you, CR!

  2. Comic Relief November 28, 2012 at 8:25 PM #


    The video (OZZIE & OB) was very informative, I did catch that sequence when the ceremony was originally broadcast. (For everyone who is seeing this for the first time) I personally thought that performance was timely, cute and entirely appropriate for the event. It’s nice to know the Queen of England doesn’t take herself too seriously.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:16 PM #

      Yes, apparently she really enjoyed it!

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

        That may be funnier than the stunt,

  3. Comic Relief November 28, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

    Oh so you’re saying the name “MI6” is just imaginative Hollywood fluff. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Well joking aside, I think England should take the tinsel-town wordsmith’s seriously; those folks have made a lot of excellent branding decisions in the past. The acronym “SIS” for the “Secret Intelligence Service” really isn’t very sexy or masculine. Not that an intelligence service needs to be masculine; (some of us had protective sisters) but I really don’t think “SIS” necessary strikes fear into anyone. This is just a suggestion; I would really rely on following people who are in the business of creating effective metaphors. A lot of people outside of the UK think the Queen of England are an important international figure who even on the conversational level should be understood in a meaningful way.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

      LOL! From what I read I think that because the existence of SIS was denied until 1994, the only thing the media and the public had to go on was authors like Fleming. His experience of it was mostly during the war when it was called MI6 which he obviously put in his James Bond novels and the name was taken as a fact. The reality was that during peace time goverment intelligence and military intelligence were separated again (during the first and second world wars they were brought closer together for efficiency I think). However, MI6 is still in it’s logo. https://www.sis.gov.uk/

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

        Very cool. I always love your research.

        • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:43 PM #

          Cool web site too. I take back everything.

  4. Comic Relief November 28, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

    Even more feminine, no one wants to hear how sassy the Special Forces in the British Army is either. Maybe the same people who should be working on rebranding the Queen’s Secret Service should be working on a new acronym for Special Forces in the British Army or “SAS” also.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

      LMAO! I don’t think they’d be thrilled to hear that. We also have SBS (special boat squadron), 18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment, Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing. Are they tougher, lol?

  5. Comic Relief November 28, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

    “Nor do they have a “license to kill.”


    Ozzie, you kill me.

  6. Open Book November 28, 2012 at 8:50 PM #


    This is a great article and topic to start out the series. I’ve watched the video of James Bond and the Queen at least 5 times now. LOL!!

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:39 PM #

      There were so many parts of the opening ceremony that I watched over and over. This is one of them! 🙂

  7. Open Book November 28, 2012 at 8:57 PM #


    U stated Agents don’t carry guns. Why not?

  8. ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:08 PM #

    Hello everyone! 🙂 I hope I got the right day and time, lol!

    • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

      Right on time. At least by my watch.

      • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:14 PM #

        Woo hoo, lol!

  9. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:10 PM #

    Hi, welcome new and returning visitors.

  10. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:11 PM #

    Oh by the way here’s the Skyfall trailer.

  11. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:13 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    I can only stay for a bit but wanted to say that I found this article very informative. I was watching on t.v. a while ago (you know how I am with my insomnia….I swear my biological clock is on L.A. time) about a Russian agent that double crossed the Germans to help the British out in WW2. I don’t remember but somehow the Germans or someone found out that the Japanese were planning on attacking Pearl Harbor.

    He was told by the British to take this information to America and show them that they are about to be attacked, so he did. The Americans basically laughed in his face and didn’t believe him. Well he couldn’t leave America because he had to stay the time alloted for the mission, IIRC. He had his GF come over and join him and he decided to make a vacation out of it because his mission had failed.

    The CIA/FBI threatened to have him arrested on “immoral” grounds for bringing his GF over. So he had to send his GF back and he ended up staying. Then when he went back to Germany his cover was almost blown. I wish I could remember the guy’s name.

    Ian Flemming knew of him because Ian was with the Naval Intelligence at that time. Some snippets of Bond are based on this man. I’m off to try to find his name now!

    • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

      Hi Paris!!!

      Great story. Hope you’re successful finding more info, this sounds like an excellent tale.

      • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:44 PM #

        I had heard of that story during a history class at school. Apparently they were warned many times but didn’t act on it. I have no idea whether that bit is true.

  12. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:13 PM #

    Ozzie, did you see Skyfall?

    • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:14 PM #

      I did and I loved it!

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

        What was so great about it?

      • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

        I loved the Cinematography of it and Javier is the perfect bad guy.

        • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

          I promise to get over my jealousy; I think you discussed this on Hollywood Take Two also.

          • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM #

            I haven’t seen it yet but I assume I will see it at some point because they’re always shown on tv through out the year (more so at Christmas).

  13. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:22 PM #

    Found it! His name is Dusko Popov and he was Yugoslavian.


    • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

      I’m a little bit of spy story nerd. I can’t wait to chew up that story later. Thanks a lot Paris, thanks for providing a late night desert I wasn’t planning.

      • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

        Hi Paris! 🙂 Thanks for the link. It will be nice to refresh my memory of him!

        • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

          Hi Ozzie,

          Its my pleasure! Can you answer the question about the queen, will and kate, charles and camilla. I know the queen does not like camilla but likes Kate.

          • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:03 PM #

            Except for Charles, know one likes Camilla. I guess it’s hard to live down your reputation after joining the family as a former mistress.

            • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

              I swear to God the woman is idiotic. She thinks she’s special because her great-grandmother or some such relation was the mistress to someone related to Charles ( a king) I don’t remember his name.

              • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM #


                This is Camilla’s great-grandmother. When Camilla first met charles her comment to him was something like “My great-grandmother was your great-great grandfather mistress. So how bout it?” I’m not sure on the relation between Charles and Edward VII

                • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM #

                  She said that? Really????? Wow! I guess we know what Camilla’s real aspirations are. Can we say self destructive, self serving and tacky anyone?

              • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM #

                That’s hilarious, (in a bad way).

                • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:30 PM #

                  LOL, I did not know that! I’m not interested in her enough to know much about her.

                  Which question was it again?

                • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 10:25 AM #

                  CR- U should not laugh at people who are stupid with low-self esteem.

          • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 9:59 AM #


            I will hold my tongue on Camilla but ITA with u…..:-)

    • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 9:58 AM #

      This is really fascinating. I did not know this.

  14. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM #


    I’m so glad I have a Brit to ask these questions of…

    I really don’t keep up with the Will and Kate stuff but why is it that they seem to making all of the appearances (I thought) Charles and Camilla should be making?

    • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      I’ll take a stab. They are younger and seem more relatable to the people. I don’t know how true this is but rumor has it that the Queen is going to skip over Charles and make William King.

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

        No way. (really I’m speechless) I can’t tell whether you’re joking or not. Is that possible….?

        • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

          Yes way and it would be possible only if the Queen deems it possible. I think. Ozzie would be better suited to answer it more than I would.

          • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

            Well, I guess when your the Queen…

            • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

              Oh this maybe a long one!

              • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

                type it please. we are interested. I know I am. I’m reading about will and kate for my article and find it to be very eye opening.

                • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

                  I second the request.

            • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

              All of the immediate royal family make apperiences on behalf of the Queen (nothing to do with age, they always have done it and they always will). Those are Prince Charles and Camilla, Wills and Kate, Harry, Prince Andrew (her second son) and his two daughters, Prince Edward and Sophie (her third son but their children are too young to do official work) and Princess Anne (as they are so far down the succession line she decided her children will not have titles and don’t do as much official work as they have they’re own full time jobs). The lesser royals do some official work but not alot.

              The reason why you hear more of Wills and Kate is because of their popularity but they do the same amount the other royals do. Charles is still in line to the throne (and comedians have a field day on him just waiting and waiting for the day he becomes king) however the public aren’t too fond of him or Camilla. Every few years the arguement on titles appear. When he’s king, he want Camilla to be queen however the public don’t. We don’t like the nasty divorce with Diana and although she was no saint herself, he was having an affair with camilla first (she was even at the wedding). If the public have their own way she would be title of the King’s Consort, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (we’re not fond of the Duchess part either. That’s her title at the moment). The goverment argues over it every few years as I said. I don’t think we’ll ever have a choice (if we did, we’d skip Charles and go straight to Wills!).

              Now I don’t know whether the Queen will skip him or not but the chances are is that she could possibly out live him (female royals live longer than the men for some reason). If she lives to be over 100 like her mother, he’ll be in his 80’s when he inherits the throne and hopefully won’t live as long, so Will and Kate will be on the throne sooner thant later.

              I think that’s as brief as I can put it, lol!

              • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

                Excellent job Ozzie, and thank you very much!!!

              • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

                Thanks for the info Ozzie!

                As you said right now Charles is still in line. Given that the public doesn’t like Camilla do you think that would sway the Queen’s decision about skipping him because its not like C & C are making decisions regarding the country at the moment.
                Also, wouldn’t it have been more prudent for him to dump Camilla all together. IIRC, that’s what happened to Margaret. She had to dump her lover because it would have been deemed inappropriate if she ever took the throne. She didn’t of course and if IIRC, she held that against the Queen for the rest of her life.

                Why wouldn’t Edward and Sophie give them titles? I’ve read that before and think its ridiculous. They can’t help the family they were born into. Allow them to have their heritage and do with it what they will.

                • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 11:08 PM #

                  Erm, I honestly don’t know what the Queen will decide. All I know is that everyone thinks that Charles is hoping she abdicates and hands things over to him but that won’t happen. I think/hope she’ll be Queen till her last breathe. I would like Will to inherit the throne but I don’t think it’ll happen. The fight will be over whether Camilla will be Queen or not. Again I don’t think we’ll get what we want and she’ll be Queen.

                  I can’t really remember alot (because I was 11 at the time) but I think he did separate or at least wasn’t out and about publically with Camilla for a while after Diana died. In an ideal world he would of married her first and none of this would of happened. I don’t begrudge him happiness. I just don’t like cheaters and I don’t really want to call her queen, lol!

                  Public opinion could sway her, thinking about it. I don’t think it was be a major part of her decision but it would be something she would think about. She does take her role seriously and does care for us.

                  Edward and Sophie’s kids do have titles just not prince and princess. It’s Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn. According to wikipedia, the Queen decided that. Philip and Zara don’t have one because they’re 11th and 14th in line to the throne and Anne didn’t think they would ever be on the throne and opted out of titles for them. At least that’s what I heard!

                  • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM #

                    Ozzie and Paris,

                    My hats off to u both. I didn’t know the Queen could bypass Charles? Although I like Will. I’m sure that would definitely put a strain on the father and son relationship. Hmm! That’s tough. I’m learning so much.

  15. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

    I got some of the details wrong in my retelling of it but I hope you enjoy the information!

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 11:13 PM #

      I am! And I could be wrong too. Just because I’m British doesn’t make me an expert on it, lol! I know general things on the Royals, specifics I have to look up to make sure I’m correct!

  16. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

    I saw a documentary on the Queen about a week ago. After watching the sometimes ugly U.S. Presidential elections a few weeks ago I admire the way your Prime Ministers can always rely on the Queen to discuss local politics and national affairs.

    She really does provide your country with a sense of continuety that (might be impossible) here.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

      Yes she does. I’m not a massive royalist but I do like having a queen. When times are tough she sets a good example and she gives our country something special (alot of tourism!). Not many countries have royalty now.

  17. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

    I’m not exactly expressing jealousy (I don’t think), but I’m sometimes amazed how much more the Australians seem to have closer relationship with you than we do. Am I wrong about that because we seem especially close when it comes to our foreign policy partnership?

    Am I not misunderstanding something?

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

      I’m not sure. They are part of the Commonwealth so we have that connection but they could decide to leave though. There are rumblings but I think the last vote on it was that they wanted to stay. If they did decide to separate, I think the Queen wouldn’t stand in their way. She hasn’t before with other countries.

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:40 PM #

        Thank you, again (so much). I should have understood that.

        • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM #

          If you’re not British or from a Commonwealth country so I expect that people will not know. Hell people in my own country porbably take no notice and know nothing, lol!

        • Comic Relief November 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM #

          Thank God for the psuedonym. Otherwise I would probably be fighting for my citizenship right now.

  18. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 7:59 PM #


    Why did the writer Ian Flemming, single out James Bond when the real M16 works in teams?

    • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

      Does M16 only protect the queen?

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

      I think to make the story more exciting. There are rumours of a special unit within SIS which consists of SIS officers and SAS officers full time called The Increment or E Squadron (trained to do both the spying and weponry/fighting part) which could possibly be what Bond is (but he’d be SBS as he was in the navy). But it’s a big rumour and that if true probably won’t be revealed for over 50 years like it did for them to admit SIS/MI6 existed, lol!

      • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 8:58 PM #

        Sorry that was to your post above. Not the Queen one obviously! Although in my mind she’s a secret ninja, LMAO!

        This is quite hard to find out but from what I can gather the Queen is guarded by Royal Protection Squad which is part of the Metropolitian Police but they get their intelligence from the Security Service (MI5) and SIS (MI6). She technically is the “head” of the army so she also has her own army unit which guards her palaces (the famous ones in red jackets and big black hats) but I’ve forgotten the name!

        How true this is I don’t know but I’ve just found the following which may help a bit.
        SS (MI5) = FBI
        SIS (MI6) = CIA
        GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) = NSA

  19. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

    Are the agents of MI6 paid well? with toys like the ones below, one might think so.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:02 PM #

      Hmm, this is a tough one. According to the book Bond was only paid 4 grand more than the start off salary in today’s money. So that would be £39,000 and the real life being £35,000 roughly. He couldn’t afford all his cars and clothes on that LOL! But in the movies he does, so I think that’s another thing made up to make the story more exciting!

    • Open Book November 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM #

      Great video CR about the costumes. Thank u!

  20. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:37 PM #

    One hand the Royals seem like they should be called the ancients; but for some reason there is a sense of drama that seems to follow every other generation. How are they able to sustain so much controversy?

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:13 PM #

      Some people don’t like the Royal Family and don’t want them. It’s another rumble that happens from time to time but the majority seem to not mind them. There’s alot more enthusiam for the younger ones especially Wills and Kate. I don’t know how they’ve lasted this long. It’s not something I’ve really thought of! Thinking about it now the only thing I can think of is that they have very little power. All of that is in the government and has been for centuries.

  21. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:43 PM #


    Has the Queen’s image been restored (do people love her) or is she still looked at with some disdain over the way she handled Diana’s death?

    • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

      I think people give credit for being human.

      • Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

        I think people give “HER” credit for being human.

        • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

          She almost lost the throne over how she handled it. She didn’t like Diana but when push came to shove she relented.

          • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:23 PM #

            She’s back to where she was before. It took a while for us to calm down but we did. Looking back I can understand her initial decision. At the time no flag could fly over Buckingham Palace, as the Royal Standard is only flown when the Queen is in residence. The Royal Standard never flies at half-mast as it is the Sovereign’s flag and there is never a dead Sovereign (the new monarch immediately succeeds his or her predecessor). Something like this had never happened before so there was no guideline for it. It’s actually changed how the flag was flown. The Union Jack was flown at half mast and now flies when the Queen isn’t at Buckingham palace. When she is there the Royal Standard flies. I think!

            • parisienne November 29, 2012 at 9:36 PM #

              Thanks for the info.

              Was the only reason the Queen didn’t like Diana because she had mood issues. If you ask me Diana was bipolar.

              • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 11:38 PM #

                I agree with the depression. The pressure and the scruntiny made it worse though. I don’t think the Queen was impressed by any of them to be honest! Affairs are meant to be kept behind closed doors and the fact that it was public knowledge probably annoyed her. But I think she was annoyed by Diana not putting up with it (as women married to royalty were expected to in the past). Then when both of them went on public record and spoke about it all, that was a big no no! So she was viewed as a bit of a trouble maker, lol!

  22. Comic Relief November 29, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

    You know I started out the discussion thinking what am I crazy I really don’t know as much about the UK as I would like to. Oddly I’ve always been a big fan of what England makes. Yet this was really a lot of fun, until I visit the country I imagine I can’t help but remain curious.

    Ozzie thanks for being so very gracious.

    See both of you soon.

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM #

      No problem I’ve had fun! 🙂

  23. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 8:58 PM #


    I’m going to go for the night. Thank you for the discussion! I enjoyed it! ttys. 🙂

  24. parisienne November 29, 2012 at 9:00 PM #


    I’m going to go to YM if you want to chat. 🙂

    • ozzie20 November 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM #

      Logging on now! 🙂

  25. Open Book November 30, 2012 at 9:44 AM #

    Wow! I really missed a great discussion. Great article Ozzie I agree with everyone. It was very informative.

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