Duchess of Cambridge's right-hand woman stands down

Duchess of Cambridge and Rebecca Deacon in 2016 Image copyright PA
Image caption Miss Deacon played an important role in the duchess's wedding and was promoted soon after it

The Duchess of Cambridge's right-hand woman is leaving her post after 10 years' service to the Royal Family, Kensington Palace has said.

Rebecca Deacon became private secretary to the duchess shortly after the Cambridges married in 2011.

Miss Deacon previously worked for Prince Harry's charity Sentebale.

A palace spokeswoman said: "Their Royal Highnesses are incredibly grateful for all the hard work and support Rebecca has provided over the past 10 years."

She said Miss Deacon planned to leave the duke and duchess's household this summer, adding that they "wish her well in the next phase of her career".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Miss Deacon's duties included briefing the duchess about people she was meeting

The news follows reports of Miss Deacon's engagement - she is due to marry later this month.

Often pictured standing behind the duchess during public engagements, Miss Deacon played an important role during the royal wedding.

A private secretary's duties include organising official programmes and engagements and ensuring the duchess is briefed on whom she is going to meet.

Kensington Palace declined to comment on the matter of Miss Deacon's replacement.

Could you be what the Duchess is looking for?

Image copyright EPA

Analysis by Peter Hunt, royal correspondent

Conversations with headhunters will take place soon.

However, anyone who lets slip they might be in the running for the post will not end up sitting behind an antique desk at Kensington Palace.

The successful candidate will be discreet, self-effacing and efficient. A sense of humour and a sense of the absurd will be very necessary personal qualities.

An ability to collect flowers from members of the public and to provide fashion advice won't be written into the job description.

In public, they'll be a hovering presence and they'll call the duchess Your Royal Highness and Ma'am (to rhyme with jam); whether they call her Catherine in private depends on how well their relationship develops.

The new private secretary will be appointed at a critical time. With the Queen a month away from her 91st birthday, the Cambridges will take on more royal duties.

In the coming years the duchess' diet of engagements will grow and will be managed by her newest member of staff.

This senior royal official will be an adviser, a confidante and, at the end of the day, a servant.

They'll have a privileged position inside the House of Windsor bubble and, if they're wise, they won't overstay their welcome.

When they do leave, like Rebecca Deacon before them, they'll know they'll have played a part in shaping, as things stand, the life of a future Queen Consort.

Read more from Peter here.