The heir to the Saudi throne has not attended a series of high-profile ministerial and diplomatic meetings in Saudi Arabia over the last fortnight and is alleged the Guardian has been told.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is understood to have discovered a group of senior ministers earlier last week by his father, King Salman.
The king is said to have asked Bin to reach this cabinet meeting, but he failed to attend.
He was educated at Harvard and recently named as national security adviser, will informally oversee investment decisions on the king's behalf.
The Saudi embassy in Washington has declined multiple requests for comment since the Guardian approached it on Tuesday.
The relationship between king and son has been under scrutiny since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was alleged to have been ordered by Prince Mohammed and provoked international condemnation of the crown prince. This has been denied by the Saudi government.
Experts on the Middle East are divided between the murder, and on the realm of the conflict in Yemen, have led to the tension of the heart of the notoriously secretive royal court.
But while most observers expect Prince Mohammed to access the thrown, there are some signs that the king is seeking to reinforce his controversial son at time when Saudi Arabia is under the spotlight.
Prince Mohammed told The Guardian has not been waiting for the most recent weekly meetings of cabinet ministers, which are headed by the king.
The crown prince has also attended other high-profile talks with visiting dignitaries, including one last week with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
Prince Mohammed, a meeting with the head of the World Health Organization, a meeting with the head of the World Health Organization, and ambassadors from India and China.
A spokesman for the Saudi government in Washington declined to comment on the absences or provide information on the crown prince's whereabouts.
The spokesman at the decision to remove from Prince Mohammed some of his financial responsibilities, or the decision to informally appoint al-Aiban to oversee financial matters.
It is unclear from recent official statements about the king's activities whether Prince Mohammed has been absent from all of the high-profile events, but he has not appeared in any recent photographs or press statements, apart from a report that he spoke to Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe over the phone last week.
A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry confirmed Prince Mohammed had not met foreign minister Lavrov last week. She also said no such meeting had been planned in advance.
Though Prince Mohammed has missed meetings before, he was the first of the "no-shows" in the last fortnight.
Tuesday, during the king discussed the many challenges facing the kingdom.
In a two-hour address,
It is a question of the great personal financial decisions that need to be approved, according to the account given to the Guardian. The decision was considered effective immediately and concerned with the investments and other contracts.
The New York Times also reported this week Khashoggi's murder.
Saudi Arabia has adamantly denied that Prince Mohammed has played a role in the killing, but the CIA has reportedly been ordered with the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi Arabia is also facing international scrutiny on other alleged human rights abuses of political detainees, including one dual American-Saudi citizen, Walid Fitaihi, who is being held without charges.
The Guardian reported last week Tensions are said to have flared up after Prince Mohammed announced two important personnel decisions after the king left Saudi Arabia for an official visit to Egypt.
The promotion of Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan to serve as Saudi ambassador to the US, and the promotion of Prince Mohammed's brother, Khalid bin Salman, to the ministry of defense, was allegedly announced without the king's approval or knowledge.
The decision was made by the crown in his role as "deputy king", which some experts said was exceedingly rare.
Prince Mohammed did not welcome his father at the airport after his return to Saudi Arabia from Egypt, which would have been customary.
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy said: “It is customary for the King of Saudi Arabia to issue a royal order by delegating the power to administer the affairs of the state to its deputy, the crown prince, whenever he travels abroad. That was the case during King Salman's recent visit to Egypt. "
He said the announcements were made by Prince Mohammed in his capacity as deputy king and on behalf of the king. "Any insinuation to the contrary is simply baseless."
Some Middle East writers say the suggestions of a referee have been overblown and that the crown has been already serving as "king in everything but name".
Madawi al-Rasheed, a professor at the London School of Economics, has argued that King Salman has staunchly supported his son even in the wake of the khashoggi murder, opting to tour the kingdom that he retains the full support of the royal court ".
That crown could be absent from public events and that his stance is unlikely to change.
Additional reporting by Kareem Shaheen and Andrew Roth