An emergency meeting at the Buckingham Palace on Thursday morning fuelled social media frenzy over the health of royal family members, but ended with a statement that Prince Philip, 95, will withdraw from public engagements from the autumn.
There was worldwide speculation overnight after The Sun briefly published online – and later removed – “news” that Prince Philip had died. A Daily Mail report added to the speculation by reporting that all royal staff had been called to the meeting in London.
After the meeting at 10 am, Buckingham Palace released a statement: “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.”
The statement said Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying the Queen, but he will not accept new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.
Prince Philip is patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated,though he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements, the statement said.
“Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family,” the statement added.
Prince Philip’s decision is likely to lead to Prince Charles – the next in line to the throne – taking over more royal duties.
As the Queen’s consort, Prince Philip accompanied her to India on three occasions - 1961, 1983 and 1997.
Soon after the statement from Buckingham Palace, Prime Minister Theresa May offered “deepest gratitude and good wishes” on behalf of the country to the Duke of Edinburgh.
“From his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen to his inspirational Duke of Edinburgh Awards and his patronage of hundreds of charities and good causes, his contribution to our United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the wider world will be of huge benefit to us all for years to come,” she said.