Britain’s Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will retire from public engagements later this year, Buckingham Palace said Thursday, after a meeting it had called for sent British news organizations into a flurry of speculation.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 96 on June 10, is the longest-serving consort in British history, and conducted 219 royal engagements last year.
A meeting of Buckingham Palace staff was called for 10:00am, sending largescale speculation on the health of the queen and her husband.
“His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year,” the statement said.
“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.”
Prince Philip has been ever-present at his wife’s side since she took the throne in 1952. They married in 1947 and will celebrate their platinum or 70th wedding anniversary on November 20.
Polls show the queen remains hugely popular among Britons. The world’s longest-reigning living monarch celebrated her 91st birthday in April.
“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,” the palace statement said.
“Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements with the support of members of the royal family.”
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.
On Thursday, May paid tribute to Prince Philip for his contribution to Britain and beyond, his “steadfast support” of Queen Elizabeth and for his patronage of hundreds of charities and good causes.
“On behalf of the whole country, I want to offer our deepest gratitude and good wishes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh following today’s announcement that he will stand down from public duties in the Autumn,” she said in a statement.