Buckingham Palace today announced that Prince Philip will be withdrawing from all royal duties.
The revelation that the gaffe-prone 95-year-old is cutting back on his hours wasn’t entirely surprising, but ended up being somewhat of an anti-climax.
A whirlpool of rumours swished across the internet as soon as it emerged last night that The Queen had called an emergency meeting of Buckingham Palace staff.
In a global game of Chinese Whispers the news spread across the world, until the announcement of an innocent meeting had twisted and transformed itself into something much more sinister.
Thanks to internet misunderstandings and Twitter gossip-mongers, people were quickly convinced that Prince Philip was dead – or on the verge of it.
Here’s the anatomy of how a royal media storm develops.
The Daily Mail gets the ball rolling
Last night the Daily Mail got hold of the story that a ‘top secret emergency meeting’ would be held in Buckingham Palace. The website excitedly reported that ‘fevered speculation’ had followed and that a source had called the meeting ‘highly unusual’. Chins soon wagged.
The rumour mill grinds into action
Speculation got going straight away with royal health problems, deaths and abdications all getting their air time. But the noisiest rumour was that of the death of Prince Philip. Even a statement from royal aides that there was ‘no cause for concern’ couldn’t quash the gossip.
Twitter gets involved
Hardly the home of calm and reason, Twitter came into its own in spreading the Royal rumours. A few went as far as to ‘break’ the news of the Prince’s death, while scores of others blabbed that (unnamed) French media had reported his demise.
— Andrew Ball (@AndrewBallNews) May 4, 2017
— Lucid Hurricane™✘ (@Forever_Lucid) May 4, 2017
Someone jumps the gun
An error over at The Sun’s office saw the paper kill off Prince Philip a little prematurely. In an apparent case of accidental button-clicking, an article titled ‘Prince Philip dead at 95, how did the Duke of Edinburgh die, etc etc’.
— The Sun Apologies (@SunApology) May 4, 2017
The piece was swiftly deleted, but could be seen on Google some time afterwards – and has of course been immortalised through the joy of the screengrab.
The truth is much more boring than anyone hoped
Buckingham Palace announced at 10am that Prince Philip would be stepping down from his royal duties come Autumn. After a morning of frantic swirl, the very-much-not-bombshell announcement felt rather limp. After such a major disappointment, all that’s left for the internet to do now is wait for the next storm in a teacup.
— Paul Snowdon (@67Snowy) May 4, 2017