Buckingham Palace has quashed rumours swirling worldwide about the health of Prince Philip.

"You could safely assume the Queen and Prince Philip are not dead," a palace press officer told a TVNZ reporter this afternoon.

The Daily Mail earlier today reported rumours amongst Buckingham Palace staff were rampant after the Queen's most senior aides called her entire household to an emergency meeting later today, New Zealand time.

Servants from royal residences across the country have been ordered to London and will be addressed 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, the Daily Mail says.

Many Twitter users say French media were claiming the 95-year-old had died.

However, no French media appear to be doing so, and nor is UK media. One website indicates the reports are based on a rumour from earlier this week that turned out to be a hoax.

The prince opened a new stand at Lord's cricket ground earlier today, New Zealand time.

In its earlier report, the Daily Mail said even the Queen's 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.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment to the Daily Mail.

Sources insisted that the Lord Chamberlain does call meetings of household staff from time to time and said it would be wrong to speculate further.

The Queen has just returned to her London residence following her extended Easter break at Windsor.

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.

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.

- NZ Herald


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