Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. The Prince has stepped down from all official engagements

The Duke of Edinburgh will no longer carry out royal duties from the autumn of this year, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

According to the Palace, it was the Duke’s decision 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 from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, the Duke has the full support of the Queen. Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying the Queen,” the statement read.

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It is not thought he will disappear from public life altogether though.

The announcement puts an end to fevered speculation about the welfare of Queen Elizabeth or Philip following reports that an ‘unusual’ meeting had been called at the Palace.

Senior staff from royal residences around the country had been summoned to London today for a meeting at 10am.

 

The earlier reports, somewhat inevitably, sparked a gathering of the world’s media outside Buckingham Palace.

Philip has generally been in good health in recent years and on Wednesday he opened a new stand at Lord’s cricket ground in central London looking relaxed and lively.

But it appears the Duke has decided that, now in his advanced years, the time has come to step back from royal duties that can involve extensive travel.

His grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, has already announced he will be leaving his job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot to concentrate on his public role, and it is likely he will be further supporting the Queen in her position as head of state now that the Duke has retired from official engagements.

But a royal aide stressed Philip is likely to attend events in the future and will not completely disappear from public life.

The meeting was taken by the Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer of the Royal Household, and Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s Private Secretary.

The Queen is expected to continue her appointments as normal.

The frenzied speculation on social media was given added impetus as many pointed out that the apparent meeting was not initially being covered by the BBC or Sky, leading many to suggest a media blackout was in force among the major broadcasters.

The Queen, who celebrated her 91st birthday last month, and Philip, who turns 96 next month, still regularly carry out official duties although they have cut back on their workload in recent years.

Elizabeth met Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday to formally agree to the dissolution of parliament ahead of June’s election while Philip opened a new stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground in central London.