Mystery surrounds the calling of an emergency meeting of all royal household staff at Buckingham Palace today.
Staff from as far afield as the Queen’s residence in Scotland have been summoned to the last-minute meeting, which is due to take place this morning, amidst concerns for the Queen and her husband's health.
Early-morning panic was widespread, and British newspaper the Sun accidentally published a half-written obituary announcing Philip's death on their website this morning.
A source sought to play down the drama, telling the Daily Beast that there was "no cause for alarm" and that the meeting was “one of several staff meetings that take place every year.”
The source declined to say whether the meeting had been called at short notice, as has been widely reported, or whether it was a longer-planned event.
Inevitably there has been speculation that the meeting will concern the health or work schedules of either Prince Philip, 95, or the Queen, 91, both of whom continue to maintain an astonishing work rate.
Abdication has long been ruled out by Her Majesty and her retinue.
Sources have previously told the Daily Beast there is no way Elizabeth would consider abdication, although she has taken steps to reduce her workload in recent months and years, cutting out long-haul travel and dialling down the number of annual engagements and appearances she makes.
The Queen recently passed on patronages of 25 organizations to other members of the Royal family, and William and Kate are moving back to London this year as they step up their royal duties.
Both the Queen and Philip have been active in recent days. The Queen met with Theresa May at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to mark the dissolution of Parliament, and the Philip opened a new £25 million stand at Lord's cricket ground, joking: "You're about to see the world's most experienced plaque-unveiler".
However there have been concerns over the Queen and Philip’s health in recent months: they did not attend traditional Christmas and New Year's Day church services this year, with officials citing a ‘heavy cold’.
And just last week it was announced that the traditional pomp surrounding the re-opening of Parliament would be missing this year – the Queen will wear normal clothes and her heavy crown will be carried for her, rather than worn.
"Everyone is on tenterhooks," one source quoted by the Daily Mail said, "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 early morning news sent some media organizations which have been planning for royal deaths for years into a panic: Britain’s Sun newspaper accidentally published a half-written obituary of Prince Philip with the headline, “Prince Philip dead at 95, how did the Duke of Edinburgh die etc etc.”