Based on a proposal from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was appointed on Wednesday, Salman, 79, issued an order on Thursday "joining the crown prince's court with the royal court," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Mohammed bin Nayef, the powerful 55-year-old Interior Minister, replaced Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, 69, the last son of the kingdom's founder Abdul Aziz bin Saud in line for the throne.

It was the first time a Saudi crown prince has been relieved of duty.

As part of a wide-ranging government reorganisation and cabinet shuffle, Salman also named one of his sons, Mohammed bin Salman, to be deputy crown prince -- ensuring power will pass to a new generation after his death.     

Mohammed, who is in his early 30s, remains as Defence Minister.

The appointments further solidify the hold on power of Salman's Sudairi branch of the royal family, whose influence had waned under King Abdullah who died on January 23 aged about 90.

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