Britain’s Prince Philip, who turns 96 in June, will retire from royal duties this fall, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. The Duke of Edinburgh, as the prince is also known, will see out his already-booked engagements through August, then officially cease royal duties starting in September.
Queen Elizabeth II supports her husband’s decision, a spokesperson for the royal household said. Buckingham Palace said that the queen, who is 91, would continue to maintain a full schedule of official activities but that the Duke of Edinburgh would “no longer play an active role by attending engagements.”
The announcement came after Britain’s Daily Mail reported that an unusual meeting of all royal household staff had been called for Thursday morning. The report led to fevered speculation on social media about the health of the queen and Prince Philip, with the Sun tabloid even mistakenly, albeit briefly, reporting that he had died. That was quickly denied by palace officials, who said the meeting was not related to the health of any senior members of the royal family.
Prince Philip made an appearance at London’s world-famous Lord’s cricket club on Wednesday (pictured) to open the club’s new 2,656 seat Warner Stand, which marks the first phase of a £25 million ($32.3 million) overhaul. The prince as a young man was recently portrayed by actor Matt Smith in the award-winning Netflix series “The Crown.”
The prince, who is known for making gaffes and questionable comments but is credited for his devotion to duty, took part in 110 days of royal engagements last year. He and the queen will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary later this year.