Buckingham Palace have just announced that Prince Philip will be retiring completely from all of his royal duties from the autumn, at the age of 95.
The news was announced at an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace, which called all staff of the Royal Household back to the London palace.
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said, “His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen.
“Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.
“The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.
“Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.”
The Queen and her husband have dramatically cut back
on their number of trips abroad and cross-country travel recently, and both she and Prince Philip suffered from heavy colds over the Christmas period, raising concerns over their welfare.
However, Prince Philip did carry out a public engagement just yesterday, oepning the new Warner Stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. The Duke of Edinburgh cut the ribbon for the stand and met with former England crickiters.
(Prince Philip yesterday)
Staff from as far as Windsor Castle and Balmoral in Scotland were called back to the palace last night, and were told the news by Lord Chamberlain and Her Majesty’s Private Secretary Sir Christopher Geidt at 10am on 4th May.
The meeting of all staff was said to be not unprecedented, but the fact that it was called at the eleventh hour sparked some to worry about the health of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Before the meeting, a source told the Daily Mail, “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.”
Royal aides however maintained that there was “no cause for concern”, and people speculating about whether there had been a death were quickly put at ease, as the Royal flag remained, and remains, at full mast today, which meant that there had been no death in the family.
(Queen pictured on 3rd May driving to meet with Theresa May)
Other reports questioned whether the announcement will be about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry becoming engaged. Further commentators asked whether the palace could be announcing baby number three for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. But this kind of news would usually instead simply be announced by Kensington Palace, as opposed to the Queen calling an emergency meeting.
Former press secretary to the Queen however dismissed dramatic rumours prior to the meeting.
The Queen yesterday met with PM Theresa May for a brief discussion on this dissolution of Parliament, ready for the State Opening in June.