Social media melts down over rumours of royal deaths

Rumours of an emergency meeting called at Buckingham Palace have sent social media into a spiral, with speculation abound about what the meeting is for.

According to the Daily Mail, staff from as far away as Scotland have been called in for the meeting in the early hours of Thursday morning (local time).

When contacted by Newshub, the Buckingham Palace denied reports the Queen or Prince Philip had died, saying both were "alive and well".

But for more than an hour beforehand, the Palace wasn't responding to media queries, prompting wide speculation online.

There were reports French media had confirmed Prince Philip had died; no one named or quoted the French media in question in their tweets.

Other reports said the flag at Buckingham Palace had been lowered to half mast, fuelling speculation one of the royals had died.

But as the sun went up, the rumour petered out, with the flag visible in its normal position.

Still others found it hard to grasp why a New Zealand media outlet was among the first to get comment from the Palace.

The reason is simple: we called them.

There's still an hour to go before the final rumour can be confirmed or busted. According to Twitter, the official announcement would come at 8am GMT (7pm NZT), with comment first provided to BBC News.

At the moment, the media outlet has remained quiet across its website, radio and TV channel.

This story will be updated at 7pm NZT to reflect the final outcome of this rumour.

UPDATE 7:02PM NZT: BBC News has yet to report on the rumours, instead leading their bulletin with the French election.