As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex settle into their married lives, they are building a small network of staff and advisers to help them navigate work, security and looming parenthood.
That trusted circle has suffered a setback, it has emerged, with the departure of their personal protection officer.
The female bodyguard, who was by the Duchess’s side throughout her high-profile tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand in the autumn, has left the Kensington Palace team after six months of service.
She is understood to be leaving the Metropolitan Police for reasons unconnected to the Duke and Duchess or their household, and is said to be highly regarded.
The senior personal protection officer, who is not being named for security reasons, had been a prominent part of the couple’s security service as the only woman accompanying them on public engagements.
While the officer, described as “brilliant” by colleagues, is understood to be leaving the Royal household on good terms, her departure will be seized upon by royal-watchers as the latest in a small list of blows for the Duchess of Sussex’s team.
Melissa Touabti, the personal assistant to the Duchess, left the palace last year after being in the post for around six months, while Samantha Cohen, the couple’s experienced private secretary who previously worked for the Queen, is expected to leave later this year or next year, having agreed to work for them on a temporary basis until the position could be permanently filled.
The protection officer, who has the rank of inspector, is reported to have joined the Duke and Duchess in the summer, replacing Prince Harry’s former head of security, Sergeant Bill Renshaw, who retired after 31 years’ service in the police force.
Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported that she had been working with the Duke and Duchess on enhanced security arrangements at their future home of Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Castle estate, but had handed in her resignation to the Met.
She first came to public attention during the tour “Down Under” in the autumn, drawing comment for wearing heels as she fitted in seamlessly with a largely female staff.
“As these officers are by their principal’s side 24 hours a day, it is always preferential to have a woman on the team,” a source told a newspaper.
“There are some things that a MRF [Member of the Royal Family] just feels more comfortable doing with a woman at her side. But to have a woman in charge of the team is pretty much unheard of.”
Kensington Palace and a spokesman for the Met Police declined to comment.
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