YOUR NEW ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I’m in front of Buckingham Palace

YOUR NEW ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I’m in front of Buckingham Palace. Reports of an unusual meeting of staff prompted feverish and unfounded speculation that a royal personage — possibly the Queen or her husband Prince Philip — had died. The reports reached the New York Times foreign desk in New York, which called me at 5:30 am. Buckingham Palace officials say emphatically there is no reason for alarm. Flag atop palace is at full mast. There are scrums of reporters and television crews from Australia, Canada, Britain. A minute ago a group of royal-looking horses trotted by. Cameras clicked. False alarm. BBC had been leading with story about male eating disorders or some such. Palace gardeners can be seen gardening. A pair of police officers just rode by on horses and smiled. Curious tourists are asking what’s going on. Reporters shivering since 5 am on a chilly May morning are cursing the Daily Mail, which first reported the story about the surprise royal meeting. What could it be? Prince Philip, age 95, is stepping back from royal duties, the palace just announced.