At 1am GMT, Thursday, the Daily Mail reported that Queen Elizabeth II had called an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace. The report explained how a top secret emergency meeting had been called in London, calling in royal staff from as far away as Scotland. Her Majesty’s most senior aides were called for the 10am summit, ahead of the official announcement to the public or press.
The report worried many British citizens, who are concerned about the Queen’s health. At 91 years old, she is the longest reigning monarch that Britain has ever seen. Later on Thursday morning, however, it was announced that the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, is to retire from his long service performing royal duties.
The Duke will officially retire during the fall. A Buckingham Palace press release explained the Prince Philip will attend all previously scheduled engagements that will take place between now and August. This includes both events where he will attend alone, and events with the Queen. Thereafter, the press release said, the Duke will no longer be accepting invitations to attend events and engagements. He may, however, still choose to attend occasional public events when he has the time.
The press release also said that his retirement has the “full support of the Queen.”
Prince Philip has been attending state banquets, ceremonial events, and other noteworthy affairs, for over 50 years. At 95 years old, his retirement has been long expected by the British people and press. Owing to his health, the Duke’s role has been gradually decreasing over the years.
After the original news reports that explained how Buckingham Palace had called all its staff to London for a meeting, the #BuckinghamPalace hashtag hit worldwide trends. The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, even caused concern by accidentally publishing a report claiming that Prince Philip had died. The false report was retracted only minutes after publishing.
Prince Philip began his career when he was in the Navy. He married Elizabeth before she became Queen in 1952, and since then, he has supported the British Monarch in engagements all over the world. One of his most famous and loved institutions in Britain is the Duke of Edinburgh Award – a prize designed to get young people active and adventurous. The award is given to young people who have performed certain athletic and adventurous tasks during their school years.
The Duke has not been without his controversies, however. He is notorious in Britain for his use of colorful language, and his many gaffes. He famously told British exchange students who were studying in China that if they were to stay in the country any longer, they would come back “slitty-eyed.”
The announcement of his retirement is not unexpected. In an interview six years ago, just before his 90th birthday, Philip spoke to the BBC and explained that he reckons he has “done [his] bit.” He went on to say that he wanted to enjoy more free time with less responsibility, and without any more “frantic rushing about.”