Queen’s top aide ousted in power struggle
LONDON The Queen’s most senior courtier was forced out in a power struggle between Buckingham Palace and the Prince of Wales.
Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, left his post in July after complaints by the prince and his brother, the Duke of York, sources said.
The unprecedented ousting – the first time the Queen has got rid of her private secretary – was the climax of increasing tensions between the two royal households.
It came amid differences over how to manage the transition of power between the Queen, who is 91, and her eldest son.
Royal sources said 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 in some circles as ‘‘Project 70’’.
Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles, has denied the existence of Project 70 and maintains that the prince has never demanded a more prominent role for himself.
However, tensions have been evident for many years between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House. These culminated in July with the ousting of Geidt, who had been the Queen’s private secretary for 10 years.
Geidt, 56, has denied that he was forced out but is said to be feeling bruised over his treatment and thinks that the Queen failed to support him.
A former army intelligence officer and diplomat, Geidt has played a key role in the transition to the next generation of the royal family. He was awarded a second knighthood in 2014 for his ‘‘new approach to constitutional PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES matters . . . [and] the preparation for the transition to a change of reign’’.
However, he is said to have infuriated Charles after a speech he gave to 500 royal staff in May. Announcing the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh from public life, Geidt called for the royal households to unite in support of the Queen. His manner was allegedly regarded as presumptuous by some within Clarence House.
Charles’s staff are said to have complained about his behaviour to their boss. Both allegations have been denied by Clarence House.
‘‘Charles was told about this, was furious, and went to see his mother,’’ one source claimed.
The message was: ‘‘This is just not possible, and Geidt has got to go.’’
Geidt was allegedly told that his future was untenable by Earl Peel, the lord chamberlain.
Prince Andrew is understood to have thrown his support behind his brother, helping to seal the courtier’s fate. ‘‘Prince Andrew deeply dislikes him,’’ a source said. ‘‘The feeling is mutual.’’
It has been suggested that Andrew’s antipathy stems from the role played by Geidt in forcing him to step down as trade ambassador in 2011 over his friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Another source suggested that Andrew disliked the fact that Geidt controlled his expenditure.
Geidt’s removal makes it more likely that the transition will proceed at a pace that meets with Charles’s approval. The prince will take over the Queen’s estates, including Sandringham and Balmoral, which are run by the Duke of Edinburgh. Charles is thought to want Sandringham to go organic.
A statement by Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace said: ‘‘We are not going to engage with a story based on rumours from unnamed sources.’’ The Times
Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, left, was reportedly forced to quit after he angered Prince Charles, right.