Smiling Duke of Edinburgh driven from hospital
The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated a belated Christmas with his family after being discharged from hospital yesterday.
The 90-year-old royal arrived at Sandringham by car shortly before midday after spending four nights in hospital following a procedure to clear a blocked artery.
He missed the royals' traditional Christmas Day trip to church, this year attended for the first time by the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Boxing Day shoot, which he normally leads.
The presence of Kate for the first time as part of the royal family is thought to have been the reason for the biggest crowd in years, with some 3,000 people turning up to watch.
It is thought to be the first time he has missed Christmas at Sandringham since the early 1990s. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said no decision had been made on his resumption of public engagements or whether he will attend church on New Year's Day.
But he was able to rejoin his family at the Queen's Norfolk estate where he is said to have been advised by doctors to rest.
He left Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, yesterday morning in the front seat of a dark Range Rover and appeared in good spirits as he smiled and waved at waiting reporters.
Before his departure he thanked hospital staff who cared for him over the festive period. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "On departure, Prince Philip thanked the staff at Papworth for the excellent care he has received during his stay. "He is very much looking forward to rejoining his family."
Scores of police officers began combing the hospital's grounds early yesterday morning in preparation for the Duke's departure.
He was taken to Papworth near Cambridge on Friday night after he complained of chest pains. Following tests, doctors discovered a blocked artery and he underwent a "minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting", which was declared a success. The prognosis is said to be good, but doctors are cautious considering his age.
Just hours after his life-saving operation Philip was demanding to be released from hospital.
"I feel fine. I don't want to make a fuss. I just want to go home," the indefatigable 90-year-old is said to have told doctors who had carried out the emergency operation.
The Duke was visited in hospital by his grandchildren the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry on Christmas Day.
The brothers drove separate cars to Papworth after enjoying lunch at Sandringham, taking the Duke of York's daughters Beatrice and Eugenie and the Princess Royal's children Zara and Peter with them for a 45-minute visit.
It was the most serious health scare suffered by the Duke.
Philip's most recent illness was an uncharacteristic cold in October that forced him to pull out of a stay in Italy for the launch of the ARC Green Pilgrimage Network.
At the time he had just completed a busy 11-day official royal tour to Australia with the Queen (85) that saw them visit Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.
His next formal engagement is a dinner at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge on January 17.
No decisions have been made yet over the Duke's schedule next year, his wife's Diamond Jubilee as monarch. It is planned for the pair to complete engagements all over the UK, including Northern Ireland.
The Duke of Edinburgh complained of chest pains on Friday night as the royal family prepared to celebrate their traditional Christmas at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
He was airlifted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, where a blocked artery starving his heart of oxygen was diagnosed.
A 'minor' procedure under local anaesthetic was performed to insert a stent into the artery, freeing the flow of blood.
Follow-up treatment includes aspirins and statins.