With the glare of the world's media focused on the glittering state banquet for President Trump at Buckingham Palace, little was likely to go unnoticed.
Former model Rose Hanbury was among the most glamorous of the 170 guests, wearing a beautiful floor-length satin gown draped over perfectly sculpted shoulders.
But it was the third finger of her left hand which drew the attention of the Marchioness of Cholmondeley's concerned friends – and the glaring absence, as The Mail on Sunday highlighted last week, of a wedding ring.
Those close to Rose wondered if the 35-year-old, currently at the centre of rumours of a rift with the Duchess of Cambridge, was making a 'statement'.
The way they were: Kate and William with the Marchioness of Cholmondeley at Houghton Hall in 2016 for a black tie charity dinner in aid of a local hospice
If she was, then she could hardly have chosen a more public arena, and the incident has only heightened the worries of those around her for the mother-of-three and fuelled the rumour mill once again.
At the lavish banquet for Mr Trump, she and Kate were seated on opposite sides of the Palace ballroom.
Once close friends, the two women are said to have become ever more estranged in recent months amid persistent gossip about Rose's friendship with Prince William and Kate, which royal sources dismiss as 'unsubstantiated rumours'.
Rose's confidantes describe her as 'lonely' and increasingly isolated, as those who know both her and Kate feel torn.
In March, it was reported that the Duchess had begun to 'phase out' Rose from her circle of confidantes among the landed Norfolk set dubbed the 'Turnip Toffs'.
And the issue is causing such concern in Royal circles that Royal advisers have stepped in to help the Marquess and Marchioness with handling the media, advising them to say nothing, The Mail on Sunday understands.
Stunning: Rose Hanbury at the recent Palace banquet without her ring wearing a beautiful floor-length satin gown draped over perfectly sculpted shoulders
Only adding to Rose's distress is the frequent absence of her husband, fabulously rich film-maker the Marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley), David Rocksavage, 58 – once described as 'the greatest catch in England'.
He is said to be spending more and more time with his own friends in Paris – including a controversial convicted criminal called Francois-Marie Banier – while Rose is left alone to run their magnificent country seat, 106-room Houghton Hall with its 1,000-acre estate bordering Sandringham.
'People are worried about her. The most loyal friends are sticking by her but others, they haven't,' one source said.
'It has caused her great distress to have suddenly found herself the talking point of everyone in the area.
'She is very aware about what is being said and she has tried to put a brave face on it.
'On top of that, she has a husband who is away more than he is present. It has been a lonely time.'
As the reports of the rift became public, Rose was attacked on the official Instagram account for Houghton Hall.
Far apart: The Duchess and the Marchioness are on opposite sides of the room at the banquet for Donald Trump
Vicious messages from Trolls were added to photos of Rose, but these have since been removed.
In years past, the Rocksavages were often guests of the Cambridges at their Norfolk home Anmer Hall, less than three miles from Houghton, as well as being guests at the Royal wedding in 2011.
Both had a standing invitation to Kate's birthday weekend parties at Sandringham each January, which usually entail a shoot on the Saturday followed by an evening party, then a Sunday morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church with the Queen.
Only Kate's closest friends are invited to these get-togethers, along with her family. Other guests have included Sophie Carter, scion of a Norfolk construction family and godmother to Princess Charlotte.
William's old pal James Meade (godfather to Charlotte) and his wife Laura (godmother to Louis) are also usually there. Thomas van Straubenzee, another godfather to Charlotte, has also attended.
At Kate's 35th birthday in 2017, Rose and David could be seen standing chatting to the Middleton parents. Rose was nowhere to be seen at the corresponding event this year, according to royal watchers.
And neither were Kate and William seen at the Houghton International horse trials last month, where Zara Tindall was competing, despite Kate being pictured there the previous year with George and Charlotte.
Only adding to Rose's distress is the frequent absence of her husband, fabulously rich film-maker the Marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley), David Rocksavage, 58 – once described as 'the greatest catch in England'
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Rose's younger brother David has been quizzed by pals over the rumours surrounding his sister and told friends at his private members' club in Mayfair that Rose was aware of the gossip circulating.
Speculation has only been fuelled, however, by the extended absence of Rose's husband David from Norfolk in favour of his old haunts in Paris.
Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Marquess is relying on his close friend Banier, 71, for support. The pair have been close for more than 30 years and run two successful businesses in France together.
'They are a professional couple and best male friends too,' said a source who has worked with their Paris estate agency, De Brouzet. 'David stays at Francois-Marie's beautiful town house in Paris or on his estate in the south of France, where they run another business dealing with agricultural products.
'They're always there for each other in times of trouble and