Prince Philip surprised royal watchers on Thursday (May 4) by announcing his retirement from royal duties. Buckingham Palace released a statement, saying: "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. 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.
"The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements. Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."
Prior to the announcement, Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh's health had been a subject of speculation. Earlier on Thursday, palace aides told HELLO! that the meeting, which was scheduled for 10am, was nothing out of the ordinary. "The Lord Chamberlain holds occasional staff briefings and there is one today at 10am," the aide said.
Twitter had gone into meltdown with fake news reports surrounding the Queen and Prince Philip's health. When the 91-year-old monarch fell ill over Christmas, social media rumours reporting the Queen's death were rife; likewise Prince Philip has not been immune from such distressing and false reports either. Thankfully, the Queen and her husband, who celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary back in November, continue to be in good health and have a busy calendar of royal duties planned for the months ahead.
The couple, who are now just one year away from reaching their platinum anniversary, originally met at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in 1939 when the Queen was just 13 years old, and began exchanging letters before eventually becoming formally engaged in 1947, following the Queen's 21st birthday.