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Prince Philip 'has good night' after surgery

By Jennifer Cockerell

The Duke of Edinburgh has had a good night following his treatment for a blocked coronary artery, Buckingham Palace said today.

Philip was taken from Sandringham to a specialist heart hospital last night after complaining of chest pains, and following tests a blocked artery was discovered by doctors.

He underwent an "invasive procedure of coronary stenting" at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, which was declared a success.

The royal family has gathered at Sandringham - the Queen's private Norfolk estate - for Christmas, and some of them are expected to visit him in hospital today.

In a brief statement Buckingham Palace gave an update on Philip's condition, saying "the Duke of Edinburgh has had a good night".

Philip will remain under observation at the hospital for a short period and is expected to be visited by members of his family this morning.

There was no indication when he would be discharged, but medical experts have said that many patients can leave hospital a day after undergoing the procedure, providing there are no complications.

Buckingham Palace said last night: "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 pains.

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

The drama began when the Duke was taken to hospital with reports saying he was flown there by helicopter.

Papworth describes itself as the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital and the country's main heart and lung transplant centre.

Following tests, the Duke was treated, most likely under local anaesthetic, and the blockage was cleared successfully.

Dr Simon Davies, consultant intervention cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said Philip may have been on the verge of a heart attack or could actually have suffered one before the stenting procedure was performed.

Dr Davies said: "What they have done is they put a miniature sausage-shaped balloon down the artery, pushed the balloon into the narrowed section and then blown it up.

"That forces the material that is blocking the artery outwards and then gets the blood flowing down the artery again.

"The stent is like a little metal sleeve fitted over the balloon when it is blown up.

"This metallic sleeve is opened up and then when the balloon is deflated and withdrawn the stent stays behind."

This is the most serious health scare suffered by the Duke, who is known for being a robust and active 90-year-old.

He has defied the passing years by carrying on with his many royal engagements, and in October joined the Queen for an intensive 11-day tour of Australia that took the royal couple to many of the country's major cities.

The last time he was admitted to hospital for any length of time was in April 2008, when a chest infection laid him low for a number of days and he was eventually admitted for treatment.

But even with the respiratory problem he walked into the medical institution and walked out three days later and went on to make a full recovery.

Hugo Vickers, a writer and commentator on the royals, told the BBC the Duke would normally think being rushed to hospital was a big fuss.

He said: "He would go to hospital if he needed to, otherwise he would reckon the whole thing was a load of nonsense.

"He's a man who likes to get on with things and he has a wonderful habit of bouncing back from things like this and let's hope he'll do so on this occasion too."

He added that the Duke was "incredibly active" and despite saying ahead of his 90th birthday he wanted to slow down - and indeed stepped down as president or patron of more than a dozen organisations - he has remained busy.

Members of the Royal Family who have gathered at Sandringham for Christmas will be reassured that the procedure has gone well.

If he makes good progress the Duke could conceivably be back among them for Christmas Day, or the Boxing Day shoot, which he was reportedly supposed to be leading.

Philip would normally have been welcoming guests to the Queen's private home, which is set in 60 acres of gardens, offering the perfect sanctuary for the family's break.

Christmas Eve is an important day for the royals as they follow the German tradition of opening their presents then - something Queen Victoria and Prince Albert did.

The festive weekend will also see the Duchess of Cambridge spending her first Christmas as a member of the Royal Family.

A large media presence is expected at Sandringham on Christmas Day when the Queen and her family make the short journey to St Mary Magdalene Church on the royal estate for a traditional service.

On Christmas Day the royals will awake to find stockings filled with small gifts and fruit at the foot of their beds.

Back at the house after the church service, lunch is served at 1pm and the family enjoy a giant turkey, reared at Sandringham.

One of the highlights of the day is when the royals gather around a television to watch the Queen's traditional Christmas broadcast.

The Queen quietly leaves the room and lets her family watch the national address by themselves.

Belfast Telegraph

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