Harry, Meghan lose an­other staff mem­ber as pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer quits

The West Australian - - WORLD -

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’ side through­out her high-pro­file tour of Aus­tralia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand last year, has left the Kens­ing­ton Palace team af­ter six months of ser­vice.

She is pic­tured above with the royal cou­ple on South Mel­bourne beach.

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 this year, hav­ing agreed to work for them on a tem­po­rary ba­sis un­til the po­si­tion could be per­ma­nently filled. She re­placed Ed­ward Lane Fox who re­signed last year af­ter five years as Harry’s pri­vate sec­re­tary.

The pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer, who has the rank of in­spec­tor, is re­ported to have joined the Duke and Duchess mid-2018, re­plac­ing Prince Harry’s for­mer head of se­cu­rity, Sgt Bill Ren­shaw, who re­tired af­ter 31 years in the po­lice.

It was re­ported at the week­end that the pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer 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 al­ready handed in her res­ig­na­tion. She first came to pub­lic at­ten­tion dur­ing the tour Down Un­der, 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 said.

“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.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex in Mel­bourne in Oc­to­ber, with the of­fi­cer walk­ing be­hind.

Ed­ward Lane Fox quit last year.

Melissa Toubati was per­sonal as­sis­tant to Meghan.

Saman­tha Co­hen ac­com­pa­nies Meghan and the Queen.

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