Queen's husband undergoes heart surgery: palace

24th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Duke of Edinburgh, the 90-year-old husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, is recovering in hospital after successful heart surgery Friday for a blocked coronary artery, Buckingham Palace said.

The duke, also known as Prince Philip, underwent an "invasive procedure of coronary stenting" after being rushed to hospital with chest pains, the palace confirmed.

"Following tests at Papworth Cardiothoracic Hospital in Cambridge this evening the Duke of Edinburgh was found to have a blocked coronary artery which caused his chest pain," the palace said in a statement.

"This was treated successfully by the minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting," it added. "Prince Philip will remain in hospital under observation for a short period."

In the procedure, a tube-like device called a stent is inserted into the blocked artery to open it up and help restore a healthy blood flow.

Emergency services were called to Sandringham House, where the royal family was enjoying a Christmas celebration, at around 1800 GMT and the duke was then flown by helicopter to Papworth Hospital 62 miles (100 kilometres) away, British media reported.

The royals were spending their traditional Christmas holiday at the Queen's 60-acre (24-hectare) estate in Norfolk, southeast England, where Prince William's wife Catherine is spending her first Christmas as a member of the royal family.

The Queen and her husband traditionally spend Christmas Day morning at St Mary Magdalene Church on the royal estate and greet well-wishers on their way to and from the service.

The Boxing Day shoot usually organised by Prince Philip is now also in doubt.

The prince, who is Britain's longest-serving consort, is well-known for his tireless spirit -- he joined his wife on an 11-day tour of Australia in October -- and his outspoken views.

However, he has recently suffered occasional bouts of poor health and pulled out of a trip to Italy in October nursing a cold.

He received a front-page apology from the Evening Standard newspaper in 2008 after it incorrectly reported he had prostate cancer.

A chest infection hospitalised him the same year, but the prince went on to make a full recovery.

Celebrations for his 90th birthday in June were characteristically understated, although he admitted in an interview with the BBC that he was "winding down" his activities as old age took hold.

Margaret Holder, a royal commentator, told the BBC: "It's obviously very worrying for the Queen and the rest of the royal family who are gathering at Sandringham for Christmas."

Philip was born into the Greek royal family in 1921 but was exiled from Greece, along with his family, while still a child when Greece became a republic.

After studying in Britain and Germany, Philip joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 and served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets during World War II.

It was during his time in the navy that he began correspondence with Princess Elizabeth, who ascended to the British throne in 1952.

The pair became engaged in 1947 and married later that year at London's Westminster Abbey.

The Queen and the duke announced earlier this week they were to "travel as widely as possible throughout the United Kingdom" next year to celebrate Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.

The prince is a staunch supporter of the armed forces and also lends his name to an award scheme aimed at helping young people.

He also maintains a keen interest in science, technology, industry and the environment, as well as sports from cricket and polo to equestrianism and flying.

Prince Philip's off-the-cuff remarks have often landed in him in hot water, although Britons tend to take his politically incorrect comments with resigned humour.

In one of his most famous outbursts, he described Beijing as "ghastly" and told British students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed", during a royal visit in 1986.

© 2011 AFP

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