Together with two other Hungarian officers, Gáspár Orbán, the son of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has completed a nine-month course at the British Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst on a Hungarian state scholarship, news outlet Telex reports. The course can cost up to £93,000, more than €100,000 (HUF 37,8 million) per cadet.
Gáspár Orbán commenced his studies at the British elite military Academy barely two months after being sworn in as a member of the Hungarian Armed Forces. He was one of only three Hungarian soldiers to get a chance that year to complete the 9-month course with a scholarship from the Ministry of Defense, and he graduated on December 11, 2020. (Due to the epidemic, all students of the institution had to interrupt their studies, which is why he only graduated in December).
Gáspár Orbán, 28, began his military career in 2019, when he participated in a six-week basic training at the combat crew training group of the “vitéz Bertalan Árpád” 2nd Special Forces Brigade of the Hungarian Defense Force. He began his military career that June, becoming a professional soldier.
Leftist Népszava was the first to report the story of three Hungarian citizens who had completed the British military elite school. However, neither the leftist paper, nor the Hungarian Ministry of Defense mentioned that the Prime Minister’s son was one of them. The Ministry only said that the “application was open to any Hungarian soldier with the proper ambition and abilities. The Ministry stated that the cost of the course at Sandhurst depends on the cadet’s rank and training type.
It was Telex that published Gáspár Orbán’s name.
FactThe British Sandhurst Royal Military Academy is not only the center of training for the British military’s top brass but also an important tool in developing British diplomatic-military relationships. Several prominent European and Middle Eastern politicians have completed the 44-week course at the elite military school. Henri, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Alois, the Hereditary Prince and Regent of Liechtenstein, Hamad, the King of Bahrain, Abdullah II, Jordanian King Abdullah II, several Sheiks, cabinet members, and emirs of Kuwait, and the current Emir of Qatar, all graduated from the Royal Sandhurst Military Academy in the past couple of decades. Alumni include two sons of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, and Prince Harry. The Academy only boasts one British Prime Minister; however, he was one of the most influential statesmen of the 20th century: Winston Churchill. According to 2015 data, the cost of such an education is £93,000, more than €100,000.
Telex also sent questions about Gáspár Orbán’s state-funded education to the head of the PM’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, but received a muddy answer.
“We are not in a position to reveal personal data,” spokesperson Alexandra Szentkirályi commented, to which Gulyás quickly added: “The data processor in question is the Ministry of Defense.”
After Telex broke the news, the Ministry of Defense issued a statement in which the name of Gáspár Orbán is not mentioned. They wrote that “the Ministry of Defense rejects the accusations of left-wing MPs and, of course, provides them and their children with the same opportunity to apply for the army as anyone else, and as a soldier, if they meet the requirements, they get the same opportunity to train abroad. “
In response to the news, leftist opposition Democratic Coalition motioned to convene the Hungarian Parliament’s Committee on Defense and Law Enforcement to question Minister of Defense Tibor Benkő, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and the three selected soldiers, including the son of the Prime Minister.
DK demands an explanation of how was one of Orbán’s children able to attend an elite academy financed by “Hungarian taxpayers’ money” which is otherwise “unaffordable to Hungarians.”
According to liberal opposition Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr, it would be the bare minimum for the Prime Minister to tell his son not to apply for the Ministry’s scholarship because “it would be unseemly” and pay for his son’s course from his own pocket instead. “But no. These people can’t resist even this. Viktor Orbán, I think, would be willing to commit a crime even for the last five forint coin left to be stolen,” Fekete-Győr concludes in his Facebook post.
Ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis responded on social media: “For the umpteenth time, the prime minister’s family was attacked.”
The Fidesz politician thinks that this is much ado about nothing and Viktor Orbán’s son had only participated in a military training that anyone could participate in.
“In the current round of the related scholarship program, 164 soldiers were given the opportunity, the application was voluntary. That’s all that happened, Kocsis writes.
Meanwhile, Fidesz vice-president and Deputy Defense Minister Szilárd Németh asked Fekete-Győr to follow in the footsteps of many young Hungarians and join the army as a professional, contract, or voluntary reserve soldier of the Hungarian Armed Forces. The Fidesz politician added that “We will do our best to ensure that Fekete-Győr becomes a self-sacrificing, absolutely duty-conscious, straightforward, and gallant officer of the Hungarian Homeland, a man who is accustomed to a modest lifestyle and passionate about his future vocation.”
Featured photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI