According to sources close to the Saudi government, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the longest serving ambassador to Washington, has resigned after more than 20 years in the post.
However, he will remain formally in his role as ambassador until an announcement is made from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The announcement could take months.
For some time now, the embassy in Washington has sought to play down the rumours of his departure saying that he was on holiday.
But one Saudi government adviser said: "He is determined to go. But as there is no formal decree relieving him of his duties, he by default and by name remains ambassador."
Another said that Prince Bandar had already moved his belongings out of the Washington residence, though this could not be confirmed.
It is thought he would like a senior job back home, such as head of intelligence - a post that has been vacant for several months.
Prince Bandar took up the post as Saudi ambassador to Washington in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was the U.S. president and since he has maintained close relations with all subsequent presidents since then.
He played a central role in building the special relationship between Riyadh and Washington, a task that has become significantly harder since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Known to be in poor health, there has been speculation for some time that he wanted to leave his post.
If the ailing Saudi King Fahd were to die, it is expected that Crown Prince Abdullah would become king and Prince Bandar's father, Prince Sultan, the current defence minister, would become crown prince.
© 2005 Al Jazeera.net