Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, is to retire from his duties as a royal, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday morning. The Duke of Edinburgh, who is 95, will no longer carry out public engagements from the fall, and will step down in August.
The announcement comes after the Queen called an emergency meeting this morning with her most senior aides, sending Twitter into a frenzy. The hashtag #Buckinghampalace was trending at No. 1 in the morning in the UK as well as the U.S., above #StarWarsDay and #MayThe4thBeWithYou. It was also trending in France where it’s more subscribed than “Le Pen-Macron” following last night’s presidential debate.
The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organizations. Recently, there has been speculation over his health and the health of the Queen (91) but both appeared to be in good stead yesterday. The Queen met with Prime Minister Theresa May at Buckingham Palace to formally agree the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the country’s general election on June 8, while The Duke of Edinburgh attended Lord’s Cricket Ground to open a new stand.
Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper The Sun was quick to jump the gun on the story, mistakenly publishing a report saying Prince Philip had died. The paper posted a story with the headline “Prince Philip dead at 95, how did the Duke of Edinburgh die, etc etc.” The article was deleted within a few minutes.
The statement from the Palace said it was the Duke’s decision to step down, taken with the support of the Queen.
“His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements form the Autumn of this year,” it read. “In taking this decision, The Duke has 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.”