MI5 probing link between royals, accused Russian spy
British intelligence agency MI5 is investigating an extraordinary link between the "glamorous" accused Russian spy Anna Chapman and the royals, following reports she haunted popular London hangouts in a bid to meet Princes William and Harry.
According to a British tabloid, the red-haired 28-year-old daughter of a teacher and a Russian diplomat had the young princes clearly in her sights.
In a report published Sunday, The Sunday Mirror suggests Chapman was fixated with the pair, going so far as to infiltrate their social circles to meet them.
Following the split from her British husband Alex Chapman in 2005, Anna Chapman reportedly became a regular at the swanky London "Boujis" nightclub favoured by the young royals.
Protecting the royals in the club's atmosphere of hedonistic, alcohol-fuelled partying has long been a security headache. So much so, Prince Charles reportedly banned the pair from the club in the summer of 2006, after a pair of bloody brawls on its doorstep.
Now, no one can say for sure whether Chapman ever rubbed shoulders with the Princes. But Garry Toffoli of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust thinks the mere attempt is cause for concern.
"I think the attempt would be worrying because of the possibility of a successful encroachment into the circle of the Royal family (is) potentially damaging."
But Toffoli says the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"George Washington authorized a plan to kidnap Prince William during the American Revolution," Toffoli told CTV News. "The Royals were worried about American spies, now they're worried about Russian spies. Some things don't change."
The Sunday Mirror reports that Chapman did manage to meet royal confidant Jake Parkinson-Smith several times before the Boujis general manager was fired after being caught with cocaine.
Chapman also befriended London socialite Shoshana Dadoun.
Beside Boujis, Chapman was also a regular at other royal haunts including the nightclubs Movida and Tramp, as well as the Japanese restaurant Nobu.
Chapman left London for the U.S. in 2007.
In late June of this year, Chapman and nine other alleged spy suspects were arrested in the United States. According to the indictment, she was caught communicating with the Russian intelligence service, the SVR, using a computer attached to a wireless network at a Starbucks coffee shop in January, and two months later from a bookshop.
She faces a charge of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, which carries a potential penalty of five years in prison.
Prepared with files from CTV's Joy Malbon