Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has decided to step down from his royal duties this autumn, the Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. The decision was made by the Duke of Edinburgh himself and has been fully supported by Queen Elizabeth II, a palace spokesman confirmed.

In his absence, the queen "will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements," the palace said.

Prince Philip, who turns 96 in June, will continue to attend previously scheduled engagements till August but won’t take up any new invitations.

Philip has supported his wife as her consort from the time she was crowned and had new duties to perform. He accompanied her to ceremonies like the State Opening of Parliament in various countries, state dinners, and tours abroad.

He also served as Chairman of the Coronation Commission when his wife was crowned and he was the first member of the royal family to fly in a helicopter to visit the troops that were taking part in the ceremony. During the service, Philip was not crowned however, he knelt before Elizabeth and held her hands in his own as he swore to be her "liege man of life and limb."

Philip has been a patron of over 780 organizations, particularly focused on education, sport, industry, and environment. He served as President of the National Playing Fields Association (now known as Fields in Trust) for 64 years, from 1947 till 2013 until his grandson, Prince William took over the position that year.

He was a patron of The Work Foundation, was President of the International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986, and has served as Chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford, and Wales.

He was U.K. President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981, and President Emeritus from 1996 till now.

The palace also announced he will not take part in engagements regarding these organizations: “The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.”

In the statement, the spokesman said the duke "may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.”

In the early hours Thursday, the queen ordered a “highly unusual” meeting in London for staff members from royal residences across the country. They were to 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, according to various reports.

This led to wide speculation online the announcement might be related to the Duke’s death. However, the Buckingham Palace press office denied those rumors by telling 1News in Auckland: "You could safely assume the Queen and Prince Philip are not dead."

According to a 2015 article in the Daily Beast, it was explained in detail what the procedure would be if Prince Philip died. After his death, his title would be inherited by his son Prince Edward. However, the Duke’s death would have no other constitutional implications.