It was an announcement that went largely unnoticed amid the obligatory national debate about the New Year’s Honours List.
There, among the gongs, was a second knighthood for the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, awarded, according to the citation, for ‘a new approach to constitutional matters... [and] the preparation for the transition to a change of reign’.
It was a surprising admission. It is widely acknowledged the Queen will never abdicate and the succession is rarely, if ever, talked about in official terms.
But behind the Palace gates, preparations are being made.
And in the clearest sign yet that Her Majesty is getting ready to pass the mantle on to her son, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Prince of Wales is preparing to take control of the Royal Family media operation within weeks.
For the past 20 years, the Queen and her heir have operated separate press offices from Buckingham Palace and Clarence House respectively.
They will now be run from one office at the Palace, with Prince Charles’s head of communications, Sally Osman, at the helm.
There is little doubting the significance of the move, masterminded by Sir Christopher, or the ways in which it will increase Prince Charles’s influence.
The merging of the two offices clearly represents an important change in the way the Monarchy will be run.
One Royal confidante said: ‘This is the first step to bringing Charles to the throne.’