Prince Philip has retired from Public Life. Speculation ran rampant late Wednesday evening/early Thursday morning, when reports of an emergency meeting taking place at Buckingham Palace concerned lovers of the royalty. Due to official administrative policy, the news of Philip's retirement wasn't announced until 8:00 AM local time, granting plenty of opportunities for false rumors to spread about the meeting's agenda.

Shocking announcement

The Duke of Edinburgh is set to retire from public life beginning in the fall. Until August, however, Prince Philip will continue to make public appearances as his schedule sees fit.

The press release announcing the news stated that Queen Elizabeth II was supportive of the decision. Prince Philip and the queen appeared at the Order of Merit Service at St. James' Palace in London shortly after the announcement was made.

The announcement could have been far worse, though. After the late night meeting broke on Twitter, people began speculating that Prince Philip or even the queen had passed away. The duke is on the verge of turning 96 years old, so it would be of no surprise for him to be in failing health. His health is likely what will take him away from the public going forward. Nevertheless, it is a relief to many British citizens and lovers of the royal family that there isn't a specific threat to Prince Philip's health at the moment.

Public life of a royal

To many, the life of a royal is more about pomp and circumstance than actual policy and world impact. To some extent, there is a truth to that. The responsibilities for Prince Philip have included speeches, public engagements, and overseas visits. In that regard, he has been prolific, racking up more than 5,000 speeches, 22,000 engagements, and 600 overseas visits since 1952, according to Buckingham Palace.

It's time for him to pass the torch, though. More and more royal responsibilities have been transferred to the next generation, from Prince Charles and Prince Harry to Princess Kate and Prince William. Prince Philip will still have the opportunity to accept engagements and appearances as he sees fit, but will no longer be required to do so.

His disappearance will begin to mark the end of an era for royalty in the United Kingdom, as the queen will shortly phase back her activities as well, in all likelihood. Prince Philip's presence will be missed by some, and his jokes by others.