Prince Philip to "No Longer Carry out Public Engagements," Buckingham Palace Says

Prince Philip

A report in the Daily Mail about a "highly unusual" overnight meeting of the royal household sparked off wild speculation on social media.

The British royals and Buckingham Palace were in the media spotlight early Thursday London time amid reports that a meeting of royal household staff had been called.

An official told The Associated Press that this was the case, but added that there was "no cause for concern."

The palace later said the meeting was called to announce that Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was stepping down from public engagements as of this fall.

News media and people across the U.K. and the world were waiting for a palace update after a report by Britain's Daily Mail of an unusual meeting of royal household staff sparked speculation about the health of Queen Elizabeth II, 91, and Prince Philip, 95.

Both appeared to be in good health Wednesday. The Queen met with Prime Minister Theresa May at the palace, and Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, made an appearance at a London cricket club.

The palace official, who spoke to the AP only on condition of anonymity, said household meetings are called from time to time.

A palace announcement was originally expected around 8 a.m. London time/midnight L.A., but was then pushed back to 10 a.m. local time. At that time, TV live reports said a staff meeting at the palace was just starting, with news coming shortly thereafter.

"His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen," said a palace statement. "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."

Prince Philip is patron, president or a member of more than 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated, "although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements," said the palace.

It also emphasized about the Queen: "Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

#BuckinghamPalace and similar hashtags became a top-trending Twitter topic in the early London morning as users posted theories of what the royal family had to share. Many had fun with the topic, such as people pointing out that it was also Star Wars Day. Tweeted one: "#BuckinghamPalace Queen has called all staff for their annual Star Wars viewing #StarWarsDay."

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