For the past ten years, Kate Middleton and Prince William have relied on a trusted inner cadre of staff at their Kensington Palace headquarters to administrate their affairs.
Many of these staff have crossed over the line that divides the professional from the personal and become friends, advisers and even hair and fashion stylists for Kate.
Insiders are clear that Will and Kate are the best members of the royal family to work for, which explains the remarkable retention rate for their senior staff.
But in recent months, the good ship KP has been rocked by a number of departures of senior operatives, all connected to a bitter love triangle that the palace has done their best to keep under wraps.
The latest to go is Kate’s Personal Private Secretary, Rebecca Deacon, 34, whose resignation was announced this week.
In former times, ‘PPS’ would have been widely expected to be a job for life - with a medal at the end of it for distinguished service.
And Rebecca—who won Kate’s respect and gratitude for her efficiency and discretion during her wedding to William—loved her job.
Indeed, had it not been for a bitter split with Kate’s press spokesman, Nick Loughran, who broke up with her and then took up with an assistant in Prince Harry’s team, she may well have stayed on.
Dashing Loughran quit the royal household last spring, and Deacon is now leaving behind the heartache of KP for a fresh start (her career plans are unknown) and a new life; she will be marrying her new boyfriend later this month.
Kate and William are said by sources to be thrilled for Deacon, the daughter of a female vicar and an army major (her father died when she was an infant). It has been rumored that Kate has successfully lobbied for Deacon to be allowed to take her wedding vows at the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace—the privately owned royal church where Prince George was christened four years ago—because of her strong ties to the royal family.
Either Kate or William will almost certainly attend the wedding wherever it is held.
Deacon, 34, is only slightly younger than Kate, and had a remarkable rise to the very heart of the establishment after starting her career as a temporary worker for Prince Harry’s Sentebale charity ten years ago.
She won the undying respect and trust of Kate after she figuratively held Kate’s hand throughout her 2012 wedding. Deacon knew every detail—and kept all of it absolutely to herself. Nothing leaked.
She was promoted to Personal Private Secretary to William and Kate after the wedding, and romance blossomed with Loughran, a former PR for the City of London Police, who worked in the Palace communications department, soon after.
But the idyll turned sour when Loughran broke up with her in 2015, and then turned his attentions to Clara Madden, 29, an assistant to Prince Harry.
The tense situation proved impossible, and, last summer, Loughran walked away from his dream job, taking up a new role in corporate PR at Freuds.
Now Deacon has gone too, and her departure has unleashed a mannered battle to be Kate’s new private secretary.
The front runner is currently Natasha Archer, who currently works for Kate as her PA, and informally doubles up as her stylist.
Assuming Archer threw her hat in the ring (not guaranteed as she is something of a free spirit) many would argue that her current role as a trusted aide makes her a shoo-in for the more intimate PPS position.
There is however, one blot on Archer’s copybook, and again, it’s a romantic issue. Her fiance is one of Getty’s principal royal photographers, Chris Jackson.
Jackson is widely regarded in the Palace as ‘tame’ (he has taken private pictures by invitation for the royals) but, given William’s hatred of the press, it’s not hard to see how the perceived tensions Archer would have to navigate by being married to a royal snapper could stymie her chances.
William and Kate could elect instead to promote Sophie Agnew (who was previously Deacon’s assistant) or Laura Baker (who is also an assistant PPS) but there is one other intriguing possibility: Loughran’s girlfriend Clara Madden, who still works in KP for Prince Harry.
Clara previously worked for Will and Kate and is widely liked. Plus, her partner is a 100 percent known and trusted quantity.
William and Kate would likely proceed cautiously, but, with Archer out of the picture, Madden may just prove to be an irresistible candidate.
Quite how Deacon will feel about seeing both her ex-partner and her ex-job pass to her younger rival, one can only imagine.