The Prince of Wales's communications team is to merge with its counterpart at Buckingham Palace.

In a major development towards Charles's future role as king, his communications secretary Sally Osman will be in charge of the combined press office with the title of communications director.

The development is not only a physical move but a symbolic one as the Prince's staff will leave their Clarence House offices for Buckingham Palace.

There is speculation Charles will take on more prominence in supporting the Queen on official duties.

With the Queen, 87, and Duke of Edinburgh, 92, advancing in years it is thought Charles may carry out long-haul overseas engagements on behalf of his mother.

Charles represented the Queen at a summit of Commonwealth leaders for the first time last November in Sri Lanka.

A Clarence House spokeswoman stressed the Prince and senior members of the royal family have been and will continue to support the Queen in her official duties.

She said: "The Prince and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, carry out engagements to support her and represent her and she's still incredibly busy."

Charles's press office was set up in the early 1990s and will merge with Buckingham Palace's communications team in the coming weeks.

Ms Osman will be in overall charge of the press affairs of all senior royals and will maintain close links with the Palace as she will be managed by the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt.

The Clarence House spokeswoman added: "Communications teams across the royal households are always looking for ways to work together better.

"This reintegration will formalise that collaboration and help us communicate the work of the royal family more effectively, making full use of modern media and the range of expertise we have across the whole team."