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Prince Philip spends Christmas in hospital

2011-12-25 12:51
 
Prince Philip
Cambridge - Britain's Prince Philip missed the royal Christmas celebrations for the first time as the husband of Queen Elizabeth II spent a second night in hospital following heart surgery.

The queen and other royals were set to continue with their traditional programme, including a Christmas morning church service at the Sandringham estate, despite the 90-year-old's absence, Buckingham Palace said.

Philip - the longest serving royal consort in British history and an outspoken pillar of the House of Windsor - was airlifted to hospital from Sandringham in eastern England on Friday suffering from chest pains.

Tests showed a blocked coronary artery and doctors at the Papworth hospital near Cambridge, Britain's leading cardiac centre, inserted a tube-like device called a stent to restore healthy blood flow.

The 85-year-old queen and her four children, including the heir to the throne Prince Charles, all visited Philip in hospital on Saturday in an unusual sign of concern from the usually stoic British royals.

No work on possible heart attack

Buckingham Palace said on Saturday that Philip, who is also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, was "in good spirits but he is eager to leave" hospital.

There was no immediate update on his condition on Sunday.

Palace officials refused to say whether he had had a heart attack on Friday, but Iqbal Malik, a consultant at Imperial College London, said "he probably was having a heart attack" which was successfully aborted.

The palace said no changes to the family's celebrations are expected, although Prince Philip is set to miss the traditional walk by the queen and her family to the St Mary Magdalene Church on the royal estate at Sandringham.

It is also the first year that Catherine, the new wife of the queen's grandson Prince William, is joining the royals for the celebrations at the sprawling estate in rural Norfolk.

The royal family will reportedly have woken on Christmas morning to find stockings filled with small gifts and fruit at the foot of their beds.

Turkey for lunch

They opened their main presents on Christmas Eve in the German tradition, reflecting the family's German origins dating back to the 19th century.

Lunch is served at 1300 GMT at Sandringham House following the church service and the family tucks into a huge turkey reared on the estate.

The family then gather around the television - without the queen - to watch her annual Christmas broadcast, in which this year she is set to stress the importance of family.

It was recorded before Prince Philip was hospitalised.

The prince is also set to miss the traditional Boxing Day shoot which he organises.

The Greek-born prince Philip married then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and has become a national institution almost as much for his often brusque comments as for his support for the monarch.

Gaffes

An active outdoorsman and former Royal Navy captain, he has been in largely good health and joined his wife on an 11-day tour of Australia three months ago, but pulled out of a trip to Italy in October nursing a cold.

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

In an interview to mark his 90th birthday in June, Prince Philip 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."

- SAPA

Read more on:    prince philip  |  uk  |  royals
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