- Sir Christopher Geidt forced to quit in 2017 after falling out with King Charles
- Ex-military intelligence officer served Queen for 15 years as private secretary
- New book Courtiers claims that William was incensed by the ‘unkind’ treatment
- Lord Geidt’s dramatic fall from grace left such a hole in the Palace machinery that it paved the way for Megxit, multiple sources have told the Mail
Published: 08:00 AEDT, 8 October 2022 | Updated: 08:03 AEDT, 8 October 2022
The man at the centre of the row was Sir Christopher Geidt, a former military intelligence officer, who loyally served the Queen for 15 years as her private secretary.
He was sensationally forced to quit in 2017 after falling out with both King Charles and Prince Andrew.
A new book claims the ‘unkind’ way in which Sir Christopher, now Lord Geidt, was treated incensed William so much that he spoke to the head of the monarch’s household – the then Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel – and made his feelings plain.
Lord Geidt’s fall from grace left such a hole in the Palace machinery – particularly in dealings between the Queen’s office and other family members – that it paved the way for Harry and Meghan’s acrimonious departure from the Royal Family, multiple sources have told the Mail.
The crisis is revisited in the fascinating new book Courtiers by journalist Valentine Low, detailing the inside story of the people who work for the Royal Family and the power they wield.
The fall from grace of Sir Christopher Geidt (pictured with the Duchess of Sussex) left such a hole in the Palace machinery that it paved the way for Megxit, multiple sources have told the Mail
Imposing former Army officer Lord Geidt is described by Low as having ‘something of the Bond villain about his appearance’.
He joined Buckingham Palace in 2002 and swiftly rose through the ranks to become the monarch’s right-hand man and conduit with the Government.
He was seen as enormously successful at his job and made a point of stalking the corridors of the palace, speaking to as many members of the household as possible in order to be the eyes and ears of the monarchy in all matters personal and professional.
‘When you were having a conversation with Christopher, you pretty much knew he did not have to go and check. Either he knew that that was what the Queen thought, or it is what she would want anyway, because he was just so entwined in her thinking,’ the book quotes a source as saying.
The Queen’s private secretary was forced to quit in 2017 after falling out with both King Charles and Prince Andrew. But a new book claims that Prince William was incensed by the ‘unkind’ way Sir Christopher, now Lord Geidt, was treated
It says that although he once enjoyed a good relationship with King Charles, the two men fell out over a number of issues.
He also developed a thorny relationship with Charles’s own private secretary, Sir Clive Alderton.
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One point of contention was his failure to back the then Prince of Wales’ plan to form a consortium to buy Dumfries House, an 18th-century estate in south-west Scotland, as an HQ for his charity.
Lord Geidt thought this move would leave the heir to the throne financially exposed.
A source told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘Christopher’s effective sacking came as a great shock and many hold the view that had he still been around, the Megxit debacle would not have happened. Pictured: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during an interview with Oprah Winfrey
He was also believed to have over-reached his remit when, in 2017, he called a meeting of all the royal households in the palace ballroom to announce the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh from official duties, a story scooped by the Daily Mail.
He also took the opportunity to address his audience about the family’s future, placing emphasis on how the three households – Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace – would need to start pulling together in the future, which did not go down well internally. He lost his job three months later.
Prince Andrew, meanwhile, had long held a grudge against his mother’s closest aide for sidelining him from family duties.
He was furious at Lord Geidt’s instrumental role in helping the former Prince of Wales emphasise his plan for a slimmed-down monarchy by ensuring he was not on the palace balcony at the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Before the celebrations, the books claims, Andrew was very ‘worked up’ about being excluded from the traditional flypast and told an aide: ‘You’ve got to speak to Christopher Geidt. I want to be on that balcony. We’ve worked really hard all year supporting the Queen. It’s outrageous.’
In the end, however, just the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry appeared to watch the RAF flypast.
But in 2017, Lord Geidt’s enemies finally moved against him. Surprisingly, given the late Queen’s reliance on her private secretary, she acquiesced.
At the time, a number of sources suggested the then 91-year-old sovereign simply wanted ‘a quiet life’ and to avoid a dispute with her sons.
But William, with whom Lord Geidt had always enjoyed a good relationship, was furious and went to see the Lord Chamberlain to ‘give him a piece of his mind’.
The book quotes a source saying: ‘William was furious. He spoke to his grandmother and father. He felt Christopher had worked to modernise the institution and bring it closer together. He was concerned about the way it had been handled, and how Christopher had been treated.
‘He was really angry about it, not necessarily because it was the wrong decision. He just thought it was handled very unkindly for a man who was a pillar of the institution of the monarchy, but had also played an incredibly important role when the coalition government had been formed.
‘It just seemed like the wrong thing to do to unceremoniously chuck somebody out for a reason that had nothing to do with what was the core part of Christopher’s job, which he was still doing really, really well.
‘[Prince William] told Willy [Lord] Peel how he felt about it, and particularly how he felt about the way in which it had been conducted, which he thought was very unkind.’
A source told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘Christopher’s effective sacking came as a great shock and many hold the view that had he still been around, the Megxit debacle would not have happened.
‘He had his finger on the pulse and people believe he would have found a way to pre-empt the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure, or at least found a way to make things work more amicably.’
Lord Geidt entered the Lords after leaving his role with the royal household, becoming Baron Geidt of Crobeg.
He went on to become Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser, a post from which he resigned in June this year.