A mysterious Buckingham Palace emergency meeting involving the entire staff of the Royal Family on Thursday morning got speculation running riot for a short while. By 10 a.m., however, it has been confirmed that the topic of the meeting was Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh stepping down from public life this coming fall.
Initially, the Daily Mail ran a story that the Prince or the Queen’s health might have deteriorated, supported by a statement by an unnamed source:
“Everyone is on tenterhooks. Although meetings involving the entire royal household are occasionally called, the way this has been done at the eleventh hour is highly unusual and suggests that there is something major to be disseminated. But at the moment, only those closest to her genuinely know what on earth this is all about.”
It has since been confirmed that such speculation was unfounded. A “well-placed source” told Reuters that there was no cause for alarm about the welfare of the Queen or Prince Philip. A Buckingham Palace official also told The Associated Press there is “no cause for concern.”
At 10 a.m., The Sun’s political editor tweeted: “Prince Philip is stepping down from public life, Royal sources say. That’s apparently the big announcement.” Around the same time, ITV’s royal editor tweeted the palace’s statement:
Statement from Buckingham Palace pic.twitter.com/FcR4wUDqFG
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) May 4, 2017
The Duke, who will turn 96 next month, has made the decision himself and is supported by the Queen, 91. He will continue to attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August but will not accept new invitations.
Last Wednesday, Prince Philip visited the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, where he opened the redeveloped Warner Stand.
A video taken by the BBC’s royal correspondent Peter Hunt also showed Prince Philip in good spirits:
Prince Philip, 95, at Lord’s cricket ground, uttering one of his favourite lines: pic.twitter.com/pltAwfbhai
— Peter Hunt (@BBCPeterHunt) May 3, 2017
Prince Philip, who is known for his blunt statements, said self-deprecatingly: “You are about to see the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”, before opening the new stand.
Upon turning 90, he told the BBC it was “better to get out before you reach your sell-by date”. Now, according to the Buckingham Palace statement, he has decided to no longer play an active role by attending engagements, although the spokesperson pointed out the Prince “may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time”.