Britain's Queen visits Prince Philip in hospital

24th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince Philip was in "good spirits" after his wife Queen Elizabeth II and his children visited him in hospital Saturday as he recovered from heart surgery, officials said.

The 90-year-old, Britain's longest serving royal consort, was airlifted on Friday from the Sandringham estate where the royals were celebrating Christmas and taken to hospital for an operation to unblock a coronary artery.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne joined the queen at Philip's bedside at Papworth hospital near Cambridge in eastern England, Buckingham Palace said.

"The Duke of Edinburgh had a good night and is in good spirits but he is eager to leave," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told reporters outside the hospital.

He is however set to remain in hospital under observation for a "short period", the palace said without elaborating.

Reports suggested he could be kept there for up to five days.

The health scare means Philip is likely to miss much of the traditional festivities at Sandringham, where Prince William's new wife Catherine was set to spend her first Christmas alongside the other royals.

He may also miss hosting his traditional Boxing Day shoot.

The Greek-born prince Philip married the then Princess Elizabeth 64 years ago, and has become a national institution almost as much for his often brusque comments as for his support for the monarch.

He announced after celebrating his 90th birthday this year that he would be winding down his royal duties, although with the queen's diamond jubilee coming up in 2012 it promises to be a busy year.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street office said he had been "kept informed of the situation and wishes the Duke of Edinburgh a very speedy recovery."

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip suffered chest pains late Friday and was taken by helicopter from Sandringham to the hospital, where tests revealed that he had a blocked coronary artery.

"This was treated successfully by the minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting," it said in a statement.

The procedure involves inserting a tube-like device called a stent into the blocked artery to open it up and help restore a healthy blood flow. It is often performed under local anaesthetic.

Palace officials refused to say whether he had had a heart attack.

On Saturday Britain's normally stoical royals -- who were criticised for their lack of public emotion after the death of Prince Charles' ex-wife Princess Diana in 1997, made an unusual dash to Prince Philip's bedside.

The 85-year-old queen, her younger sons Andrew and Edward and her daughter Anne flew by helicopter from Sandringham to the hospital just before 1100 GMT and spent 45 minutes with him, the palace spokeswoman said.

Charles and his second wife Camilla arrived later at the hospital from their Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire, southwest England, for a separate visit.

No further visits were expected on Saturday, the spokeswoman said.

A traditional service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate was "going ahead as planned" and the royal family's Christmas plans remained unchanged, she added.

Prince Philip and the other royals have had a busy year with the wedding of his grandson Prince William to Catherine, and he joined his wife on an 11-day tour of Australia in October.

He has been in largely good health but pulled out of a trip to Italy in October nursing a cold.

In an interview to mark his 90th birthday in June, he said he would finally scale back his workload.

"I reckon I've done my bit. I want to enjoy myself a bit now, with less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say," he told the BBC.

Thinking of things to say has sometimes landed him in hot water. On a visit to China in 1986, he warned a group of British students: "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed."

In 2012 the queen is due to celebrate 60 years on the British throne, but while other royals are scheduled to tour the globe next year, she and Philip are set to stay in Britain.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article