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Buckingham shocker: Palace announces that Prince Philip will retire — at age 96

Key Points
  • Prince Philip, who turns 96 next month, will retire in the fall, Buckingham Palace says in a surprise announcement.
  • Queen Elizabeth, who is 91, will continue her duties, the palace says.
Buckingham Palace announces that Prince Philip will retire at age 96
Buckingham Palace announces that Prince Philip will retire at age 96

Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, will permanently discontinue his royal duties in the fall, Buckingham Palace said Thursday in a surprise announcement.

The palace said while the queen would continue to carry out her full program of public engagements, she offered her full support to the Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 96 next month.

Before the announcement Thursday, senior royal staff had been summoned to attend an unusual meeting at Buckingham Palace, prompting speculation regarding the health of the 91-year-old queen or her elderly husband.

However, a source told NBC before the announcement that there was "no cause for concern" regarding the health of the royals.

Later, the palace said:

"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."

Palace announcement

The official royal family site on Twitter posted this photo of the couple arriving at a ceremony at St. James's Palace on Thursday.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh arrive for today's Service for Members of the Order of Merit at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.

The site also noted that since 1952, the Duke has carried out 22,191 solo engagements.

The couple, who are due to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in November, have reduced their royal responsibilities in recent years.

Platinum wedding anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech on her throne as Prince Philip listens during the state opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, May 18, 2016 in London.
Alastair Grant | WPA Pool | Getty Images

The world's longest-reigning living monarch and her husband have gradually passed on some of the workload to their son and heir Prince Charles as well as grandsons, Princes William and Harry.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip completed official duties on Wednesday. The queen met with Prime Minister Theresa May to formally dissolve parliament ahead of June's general election and Philip opened a new stand at London's Lord's Cricket Ground.

Lord's Cricket Ground

Philip was born on the island of Corfu on June, 10, 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

During the World War I, Philip's grandfather Prince Louis of Battenberg changed the family's name to Mountbatten.

Then-Princess Elizabeth married the prince Greece and Denmark, her third cousin, in 1947. He had served with the Royal Navy during World War II. Charles was born a year later, followed by Anne in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.

In 2009, Philip became the longest-serving British consort to the sovereign, a distinction previously held by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who reigned from 1760 to 1820.

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