It was the middle of the night in the United Kingdom as word began to spread that an emergency meeting of Queen Elizabeth II's entire staff had been called to be held this morning at Buckingham Palace. The staff and servants will be addressed by the Lord Chamberlain, The Earl Peel, and Her Majesty's Private Secretary, Sir Christoper Geidt.
Servants from royal residences across the country were also reportedly been ordered to London.
Protocol from the Palace is that significant announcements be made at 8 am local time, with the press breaking the news approximately 5 minutes earlier. With such an unusual and last-minute summons, the Internet exploded with speculation that it involved news of a death of one of the Royal family, specifically the the Queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip was seen in public only yesterday when he presided at the opening of the new Warner Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground. The Stand is part of a $32 million reconstruction project which will take place over the next two decades.
Buckingham Palace was called on to scotch that rumour, issuing first a notice that the announcement did not involve the health of the Queen or Prince Philip.
Instead, they announced that the Duke of Edinburgh, 96 next month, is retiring from royal duties this autumn. The decision was made by Prince Philip and was supported by the Queen. He will fulfil engagements between now and August, but will cancel those beyond that and not take on new invitations.
He will continue his association as patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations, just no longer play an active role by attending engagements.
The Prince and the Queen have been married for 70 years, have four children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He was recently portrayed by Matt Smith in Netflix show The Crown.