Harry, Meghan lose another staff member as protection officer quits
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.