In a nearly unprecedented move, Queen Elizabeth's most senior aides ordered all servants from royal homes across the United Kingdom to an emergency meeting in London late Wednesday night, (early Thursday morning, London time). News of the meeting has caused speculation on both traditional and social media, leading the Buckingham Palace Media Centre to issue a statement to media that both the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are alive.

Last minute meeting is 'highly unusual'

According to the UK's Evening Standard, the meeting of the staff will be led by Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer of the Royal Household, as well as the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt.

It is relatively common for Chamberlain to call meetings of the household staffs, but to bring the staff of all houses together on such short notice is something staffers are calling "highly unusual."

It is expected that the Queen's press officials will issue a statement following the meeting using both traditional channels, per protocol, as well as social media.

Both Queen and her husband have been unwell as of late

The Queen, who recently turned 91, and her 95-year-old husband, have been known to have been ill in recent months. Most recently, the pair both fell ill with heavy colds over the Christmas season which affected their abilities to perform what some have come to know as traditions, including a train trip from London to their northern home for the holidays.

The Queen also missed several weeks of church around that time, which is usually a weekly family appearance in public.

According to multiple news sources, the British Parliament has not been notified as to why the emergency meeting might be taking place, and it is expected that they would be alerted if someone within the Royal Family were in a grave condition.

However, if a member of the monarch were to have passed away, there is a very specific protocol for media to follow that many Americans may not be aware of:

  • The British public broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC, would be the first media outlet notified of the death. According to protocol, if a death were to occur overnight, BBC would not be able to release the information until the following morning, around approximately 8 a.m. (The emergency staff meeting is reported to occur at 7 p.m., local time.)
  • All British flags across the country would be lowered to half-mast, with the exception of the main flag at Buckingham Palace. It would be expected that flags across the Commonwealth (including countries like Canada and Australia would follow suit).
  • If the Queen herself were to pass away, a successor would be named within three months of her passing. Prince Charles is still expected to be the heir-apparent to the throne, but there is still the slight possibility that Prince William would be elevated to King ahead of his father.

Updates to this story are expected as they are made available.