Queen calls her ENTIRE household to ‘highly unusual’ emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace today – but aides say there is ‘no cause for concern’
- A top secret emergency meeting called by Buckingham Palace has caused fevered speculation
- Staff from across the UK to be addressed by senior officer of Royal Household Sir Christopher Geidt at 10am
- It has fuelled feverish rumours of announcement concerning Queen or Prince Philip but both are ‘fine’
- Royal Standard is flying at full mast meaning no death in family and Palace source insists ‘no cause for alarm’
- Queen met Theresa May yesterday and Prince Philip at Lords – both have engagements in London later today
- Ex-royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter says it could be about Buckingham Palace’s proposed £369m refurb
- Others have claimed that Prince Philip could be about to announce his retirement from royal duties
A top secret emergency meeting called by Buckingham Palace for today has caused fevered speculation around the world about the future of the Queen and her husband Prince Philip.
The Mail revealed last night that Her Majesty’s most senior aides have called her entire household from across Britain to London for a 10am summit ahead of a royal announcement.
But royal sources have said that internet rumours about the Queen’s or the Duke of Edinburgh’s health faltering are ‘wide of the mark’ and the couple are ‘fine’.
The spokesman refused to say what the meeting is about but added: ‘There’s no cause for alarm’ and the Royal Standard remains at full mast over Buckingham Palace today, meaning there has been no death in the royal family.
The Queen met Theresa May in London yesterday to dissolve Parliament for the General Election and Prince Philip opened a new stand at Lords cricket ground and both looked in rude health. Both have royal engagements in the capital later.
Servants from royal residences across the country have been ordered to London and will be addressed this morning at 10am by the Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer of the Royal Household, as well as Her Majesty’s right-hand man, Private Secretary Sir Christopher Geidt.
Even her longest serving staff were left in the dark about why the meeting was being called but multiple sources said it was ‘highly unusual’ and had sparked fevered talk about an imminent announcement concerning the monarch or her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Royal experts have suggested that it could be that Buckingham Palace is to be closed for a £369million refurbishment and the royal family will move to Sandringham or Balmoral permanently. Others have claimed that Prince Philip could be about to announce his retirement from royal duties.
Drama: All members of the Royal staff have been called to Buckingham Palace for an emergency meeting involving the Queen and Prince Philip
The Royal Standard flag over Buckingham Palace remains at full mast today meaning that there has been no death in the royal family
The Queen’s loyal former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said it was unlikely to do with the royal couple’s health
‘Everyone is on tenterhooks,’ said one.
‘Although meetings involving the entire royal household are occasionally called, the way this has been done at the eleventh hour is highly unusual and suggests that there is something major to be disseminated.
‘But at the moment, only those closest to her genuinely know what on earth this is all about.’
The Queen’s loyal former press secretary Dickie Arbiter said it was unlikely to do with the royal couple’s health.
He tweeted: ‘It could well be about the Buckingham Palace refurbishment’ adding that the meeting was ‘nothing unusual’.
She turned 91 last month while her husband, Prince Philip, will celebrate his 96th birthday in June.
In recent years the Queen has, slowly but surely, been handing over a number of her more onerous duties including all those involving long-haul travel and many of her regular investitures.
The ‘highly unusual’ meeting at Buckingham Palace has sparked fevered talk about an imminent announcement concerning the Queen or her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh
Last year Buckingham Palace also announced that she would step down as patron of around 25 national organisations – including the NSPCC and Wimbledon tennis – after she turned 90 in April and in favour of younger members of her family.
Many have expressed concern, however, that she still conducts well over 300 engagements every year.
Recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they would be finally moving back to London from Norfolk, where Prince William works as an air ambulance pilot, in order to help shoulder the burden more.
Similarly, Prince Philip has been curtailing his commitments, having stepped down from a number of patronages when he turned 90.
There was also grave concern for the Queen and Philip’s health over Christmas when both developed heavy colds, forcing the monarch to miss Christmas Day service for the first time in living memory.
It is unlikely, however, that any meeting would involve news of an abdication as the Queen has always vowed to serve her country for as long as she lives.
The Duke of Edinburgh was out and about yesterday as he joked about his prowess at unveiling plaques when he opened a new £25million stand at Lord’s cricket ground in London.
Philip, famed for his off-the-cuff comments, quipped just before he pulled a cord to part a small curtain: ‘You’re about to see the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler’.
His comment was reminiscent of a joke made by his grandson, Prince Harry, who said of the Royal Family during a tree-planting ceremony: ‘It’s what we do.’
And when the Duke was shown a selection of cricket bats through the ages, from an 1890s blade used by Albert Trott to a huge example now ruled illegal, he looked at a baseball-style bat with a very long handle and said to former England captain Mike Gatting: ‘It’s an offensive weapon.’
Meanwhile the Duchess of Cambridge gave a baby lamb called Stinky a bottle of milk during a visit to the Farms for City Children in Arlingham, Gloucestershire – a charity set up by children’s author Michael Morpurgo to teach inner-city children about farming.
The Duchess, who was wearing dark brown knee-length zip-up boots, light brown trousers and an outdoor jacket, had arrived at the farm for a private lunch with the children and staff. She then joined a story-time session led by Mr Morpurgo, who founded the charity with his wife Clare in 1976.
UPDATE: Prince Philip retires: Queen’s husband to step down from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces