When, in the early morning of May 4, elements of the media began swarming on foot or in OB vans outside the walls of Buckingham Palace, there was quite the stir in the air. The cause of this press congregation was the urgent call for a meeting of all staff working for the British Royal Family later that day, at 10 AM London time. Some concerns quickly materialized on social media if this might concern either Queen Elizabeth II or her consort Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh.

Health issues of the reigning Royals, both in their 90’s, were the suspected reason for the emergency meeting.

Such was the circulating rumor online up until the appointed time, when the Queen’s private secretary announced less grave news: Prince Philip was merely retiring from his royal duties.

Winding down

The official statement released on Thursday morning was that the Duke of Edinburgh, aged 95, "has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year”. The announcement specified that Prince Philip will still carry on with any engagement he is scheduled to appear in – whether solo or with the Queen – between this month and August.

Beyond that however, he will no longer accept invites for further visits and events and will only attend certain special occasions on his own choosing.

In this decision Prince Philip is said by the statement to have the support of his regnant spouse Queen Elizabeth II.

Although meetings of the Royal Family’s senior staff occur about once or twice a year, the rather abrupt timing of the call had very nearly blown out of proportion in social media and fringe press speculation.

One Twitter post even mistakenly assumed the worst by perceiving the Union Jack over Buckingham Palace as flying at half-mast.

What the Queen and Duke were up to

In hindsight, a quick scrutiny of recent UK news would have discredited any dire tidings for Elizabeth II and Philip.

Just the day before, May 3, Prime Minister Theresa May called on the Queen to request the formality of dissolving the British Parliament ahead of a snap general election to be held on June 8. She may also be making time for when her grandson Prince Harry may introduce his girlfriend Meghan Markle to her any day now.

And on the same day, Prince Philip was attending to his royal duties when he officiated at the opening of a newly-built stand at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. He even styled himself as the world’s “most experienced plaque-unveiler”. With the announcement of his eventual retirement from such duties, this occasion has become one to remember.

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