Britain's Prince Philip to undergo surgery
Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip was due to undergo exploratory surgery on his abdomen at a London hospital on Friday, raising fresh questions about the 91-year-old's health.
The Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to the private London Clinic on Thursday evening for what Buckingham Palace said was a planned operation under general anaesthetic.
It was business as usual for the 87-year-old queen, however, who went ahead with a visit to the BBC's new headquarters just a few streets away from where her husband was being treated.
It is the fourth time in two years that Philip has been hospitalised and follows "an abdominal investigation that took place last week", a palace spokeswoman said.
The duke, who has been married to the queen for 65 years, is expected to stay in hospital for up to two weeks.
The spokeswoman insisted however that Philip was "in good health", saying he had walked into the clinic on Harley Street "unaided" after being driven there.
Although he missed a gala event on Monday, the duke had a full diary of engagements this week and appeared in good spirits as he attended a garden party just hours before going into hospital.
He been due to join the queen on a visit to the BBC's refurbished headquarters at New Broadcasting House on Friday morning.
She made no public mention of his condition as she formally opened the building during a live radio broadcast, although BBC Director General Tony Hall urged the duke to get well soon.
"We are all only sorry that his royal highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been unable to come with you today and we wish him, all of us wish him a speedy recovery," Hall said.
Palace officials gave no details about Philip's surgery but it could involve either keyhole surgery or more serious open surgery designed to look for abnormalities.
Just hours before his admittance to hospital, the duke was pictured smiling in top hat and tails and chatting animatedly to some of the 8,000 guests at a Buckingham Palace garden party.
Guest John Peace, the lord-lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, said Philip had been "telling jokes" and accompanying the queen, adding: "It was wonderful to see the Duke of Edinburgh with her."
With the exception of sporting-related injuries, the duke has enjoyed good health, but there are signs that age is finally catching up with him as he approaches his 92nd birthday on Monday.
In August last year, he was admitted to hospital in Scotland to be treated for a bladder infection.
Two months earlier, a similar complaint saw him hospitalised for five nights in London, causing him to miss the last event of the queen's diamond jubilee celebrations.
In December 2011, he was rushed to hospital with chest pains. He suffered a blocked coronary artery and required surgery, spending four nights -- including Christmas Day -- in hospital.
Philip pulled out of a gala charity reception with the queen on Monday after temporarily losing his voice.
But he was back by the queen's side the following day for a service at Westminster Abbey marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation.
In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron said the whole country would be thinking about Philip.
"The Duke of Edinburgh is held in the highest esteem by people right across our country," he said.
"He's an extraordinarily dedicated public servant and such an enormous support for our sovereign, that I know the whole country will be thinking about him, thinking about the family and wishing him well."
The couple married in 1947, making Philip the longest-serving royal consort in British history, and has been described by the queen as "my strength and stay all these years".
They both maintain a busy schedule and although the queen has cut back her long-haul flights this year, Philip paid a private working visit to Canada in April.
The duke was born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark on June 10, 1921, the only son of prince Andrew of Greece, the younger brother of Greece's king Constantine.
He attended school in England and served with distinction in the Royal Navy during World War II.
His military career was cut short by the death of his wife's father king George VI in 1952, which put her on the throne.
© 2013 AFP