The Queen's most senior courtier was "forced out" in a power struggle between Buckingham Palace and the Prince of Wales, it was claimed last night.
Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen's private secretary, suddenly announced in July that he was leaving after 15 years of royal service, loudly insisting that the monarchy was in good shape.
The Mail revealed that he was being followed by his assistant private secretary, Samantha Cohen, the third most senior courtier in the Queen's private office, amid tensions between the main royal households and their senior staff, particularly Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.
Now The Times newspaper has claimed that Sir Christopher's demise was sealed by a series of complaints from Charles and his brother, Prince Andrew, to the Queen who, unusually, backed her sons over her staff.
It is said that there were differences between Sir Christopher and Charles's senior aides, led by his principal private secretary, Clive Alderton, over how to manage the hand-over of power between the monarch and her heir.
Sources told the paper that the prince's staff were keen to "accelerate" plans to increase his involvement in key royal events by the time he turns 70 in November next year.
The plans are referred to, the newspaper claimed, as "Project 70", although senior royal sources have strongly denied this is true.
Charles is now the longest serving heir apparent in British history and when he comes to the throne, will be the oldest person ever to be crowned.
Sir Christopher, a former army intelligence officer and senior diplomat, is said have denied he was forced out but feels "bruised" by what has happened and believes the Queen failed to support him.
Prince Andrew, said The Times, is understood to have thrown his weight behind his brother, having borne a grudge against Sir Christopher since he was forced to stand down from his job as a trade ambassador over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2011.
He is also said to resent the control he has over his expenses.
"Prince Andrew deeply dislikes him," a source said.
The newspaper suggested that the departure of Sir Christopher in favour of his genial deputy Edward Young would now mean the transition of power would move at a pace "more acceptable" to Charles and his team.
Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace issued a rare joint statement in response to the story.
They said: 'While we never comment on the confidential employment details of individuals, it was previously announced in July that Sir Christopher Geidt is stepping down after ten years as Private Secretary.
"At the time of the announcement, the Lord Chamberlain paid tribute to the major contribution made by Sir Christopher who, in turn, commended the support offered to Her Majesty by other members of the Royal Family. Indeed, recent years have seen an ever-closer working relationship between all the different Royal Households and their respective teams.
"The Prince of Wales and the entire Royal Family are committed to supporting The Queen in whatever way they can at Her Majesty's request.
"Beyond that, we are not going to engage with a story based on rumours from unnamed sources."