British queen's husband spends third night in hospital

26th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip was to miss the royals' traditional Christmas pheasant shoot Monday after a third night in hospital recovering from heart surgery.

Philip, 90, was forced to miss the royal Christmas celebrations for the first time after he was rushed to hospital on Friday complaining of chest pains and had an emergency procedure to unblock a coronary artery.

He was given a festive boost on Sunday with a Christmas Day visit from grandsons Prince William and Harry and four other of his eight grandchildren.

Philip is said by aides to be eager to leave the Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, but no date for his release has been given.

He usually leads the royal family's shoot at their Sandringham country estate, held on December 26, or Boxing Day as it is known in Britain. The shoot is expected to go ahead as planned.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said on Sunday: "The Duke is in good spirits and will remain in hospital under observation for a short period.

"The Queen will continue to be briefed on his condition. We do not have details of a release date at this stage."

The queen visited her husband of 64 years at the hospital on Sunday after the royal family's Christmas church service.

Later in the day, the prince's grandchildren swept into the hospital, which lies 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Sandringham, in a fleet of cars.

Although William's wife Catherine appeared at the church service for the first time following their wedding in April, she did not come to the hospital.

William, the 29-year-old second in line to the throne, was accompanied by Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, the children of the queen's daughter Princess Anne.

Prince Harry, William's younger brother, drove into the hospital in a separate car which also carried Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of the queen's second youngest son Prince Andrew.

The royals told hundreds of wellwishers who had gathered on Sunday to see them attend the Christmas morning service in the St Mary Magdalene church at Sandringham that Philip's condition was improving.

William said his grandfather was "very well, thank you. Getting much better", while Charles added that Philip was "very well".

Philip earlier told doctors he felt "fine" and didn't want to "make a fuss", adding: "I just want to go home," according to reports.

The Greek-born Philip is the longest serving royal consort in British history and has become a national institution -- almost as much for his often brusque nature as for his support for the queen.

Despite his age, he remains active and travelled with the 85-year-old queen to Australia in October. However, he has reduced his public engagements this year.

The operation he had involves fitting a mesh sleeve fitted over a sausage-shaped balloon into the artery.

The sleeve, or stent, remains fixed in position inside the body when the balloon is removed and opens up the artery to remove the blockage.

The prince is in good hands -- Papworth is Britain's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital and the country's main heart and lung transplant centre.

Next year is a big one for the queen as she celebrates her diamond jubilee marking 60 years on the British throne.

© 2011 AFP

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