In a major reshuffle, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as heir to the throne of the home of Islam’s holiest sites.

In a royal decree, the former Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, a 57-year-old nephew of the king, was removed as next-in-line to the throne.

He was replaced with Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who was previously the deputy crown prince.

The role of the former crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, a veteran security tsar, had however largely been seen as secure.

The upheaval follows a dizzying series of moves from the usually cautious kingdom, which in recent weeks has seen it recalibrate relations with Washington and open a diplomatic offensive against Qatar, while pressing ahead with a war in Yemen.

Not left out is an ambitious economic and cultural overhaul at home.

Bin Salman has been central to the changes, which have helped his profile and powers grow rapidly under the tutelage of an 81-year-old monarch who has given him an almost free hand across most aspects of society.

By contrast, Bin Nayef, a former interior minister and intelligence chief, and more traditional US ally, had been increasingly marginalised and the decree removed him from all his positions. 

He had played little role in the reform programme and was given little face time with Donald Trump during the US president’s visit to Riyadh in May, which is widely seen to have precipitated the change in succession.