Duke of Edinburgh treated for a blocked coronary artery

December 24th, 201111:51 am @


  • Prince Phillip ‘has a good night’ after procedure
  • Rest of the Royal family due to visit the Duke of Edinburgh this morning
  • Tube was placed into his heart to keep them open and reduce the pain

Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

Last updated at 11:23 AM on 24th December 2011

Precautionary: The Duke of Edinburgh began experiencing serious chest pains as the Royal family gathered for Christmas

Precautionary: The Duke of Edinburgh, pictured 10 days ago, began experiencing serious chest pains as the Royal family gathered for Christmas

The Queen has arrived at Papworth Hospital to visit the Duke of Edinburgh following his emergency heart surgery to treat a blocked coronary artery.

Her Majesty arrived at the hospital this morning from her Sandringham estate, where the Royal family is spending Christmas.

Prince Phillip was this morning recovering after being airlifted to hospital for emergency heart surgery.

The Duke of Edinburgh was flown to the specialist cardiothoracic unit, near
Cambridge, in a RAF search and rescue helicopter after being taken ill
at Sandringham with serious chest pains last night.

After ‘precautionary’ tests, Philip underwent what was described as a ‘minimally invasive procedure’ known as coronary stenting.

involves placing a tube in the coronary arteries that supply the heart,
to keep them open in the treatment of heart disease. Stents reduce
chest pain and have been shown to improve survival rates in the event of
an acute heart problem.

Today Buckingham Palace said he had ‘had a good night’ and was currently under surveillance in the world-famous Papworth Hospital after emergency surgery for a blocked coronary artery.

He 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.

Dr Simon Davies, a cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said: ‘The pain was from the heart. It means that one or more of the coronary arteries was badly narrowed or perhaps blocked.

‘That meant that the blood was not passing through that artery so the muscle was starving of oxygen and in danger of dying, in other words a heart attack, or was on the verge of one.’

In view of his age, the Queen’s husband, who still conducts more than 350 engagements each year, will remain in hospital for a day or so for further monitoring.

Sources confirmed that his wife and children were being kept updated on his condition back at the Queen’s private Norfolk estate, where they are gathered for Christmas.

Although it may be viewed by some as uncaring, this is normal procedure within the Royal Family – and the Duke would have it no other way.

When he was in hospital for four days with a chest infection in 2008 he refused to receive any visitors and spent his time catching up on his paperwork.

Prince Philip, with the Queen, was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, according to Buckingham Palace

Prince Philip, with the Queen, was taken tonight to hospital as a precautionary measure, according to Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace said in a statement last night: ‘His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was taken to Papworth Cardiothoracic Centre this evening from Sandringham House for precautionary tests after experiencing chest pain.

‘Following tests at Papworth the Duke of Edinburgh was found to have a blocked coronary artery which had caused his chest pains. This was treated successfully by the minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting. Prince Philip will remain in hospital for observation for a short period.’

It is believed the Duke was flown to the hospital, which is around 60 miles away from the Sandringham estate, by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Wattisham, near Stowmarket in Suffolk, where Prince Harry is based.

Specialist: Prince Philip has been taken to Papworth Hospital rather than a local cottage hospital

Prince Philip has been taken to Papworth Hospital rather than a local cottage hospital

The Duke’s illness comes at the start of the royal Christmas gathering at Sandringham in Norfolk.

Every senior member of the Royal Family was at the estate yesterday, including Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Duke’s heart scare will come as a terrible blow to his wife of 64 years, who is due to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee next year with a nationwide tour with her husband by her side.

A source claimed that although the Queen is ostensibly the ‘senior partner’ in their relationship, she relies on her husband ‘utterly’.

‘It may be a cliché but he truly is the power behind the throne,’ said a source. ‘He is her rock.’

Philip is already the longest-serving consort in British history and the oldest serving partner of a reigning monarch.

His duties as consort began on February 6, 1952, when his young wife, then Princess Elizabeth, succeeded her father, George VI.

The Duke plays a major role in the Sandringham Christmas festivities. The Royal Family traditionally exchange gifts on Christmas Eve.

The Queen and Prince Philip's Golden wedding portrait

The Duke of Edinburgh salutes a parade of the Household Cavalry during a review of Trooping the Colour

The Queen and Prince Philip’s Golden wedding portrait in 1997, left, and the Duke at a review of the Trooping the Colour

The Queen wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Duke of Edinburgh in uniform of Admiral of the Fleet wave from Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in 1953

The Queen wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Duke of Edinburgh in uniform of Admiral of the Fleet wave from Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in 1953

Later on, the Queen and other women adjourn, leaving Philip to serve port or brandy to the Prince of Wales, Prince William, Prince Harry and the rest of the royal men.

On Christmas morning the family go to church. In recent years Philip has continued to make the mile-long walk from the house, unlike the Queen, who is chauffeur-driven. And Philip always organises the Boxing Day shoot at Sandringham.

Earlier this year the Duke announced plans to scale back on all but his most important duties.

In June, in an interview to mark his 90th birthday with the BBC, the outspoken Duke admitted he was reducing his workload before he reached his ‘sell-by date’.

He said: ‘I reckon I’ve done my bit, I want to enjoy myself for a bit now. With less responsibility, less rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say.’

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

The Royals have gathered at Sandringham House for Christmas

The Royals have gathered for their annual Christmas celebration at Sandringham House

It treats more than 22,800 inpatient and day cases and 53,400 outpatients each year.

Its services include cardiology, respiratory medicine, and cardiothoracic surgery and transplantation.

Arbiter, a former press secretary to the Queen, said: ‘The Duke of
Edinburgh’s health is actually pretty good given that he is 90.’

Mr Arbiter, who is Sky’s royal
commentator, told the broadcaster: ‘He has had these chest pains before
and I don’t think it’s anything untoward, but given his age they are
being safe rather than sorry.

‘I am sure we are going to see him on Christmas Day and he can look forward to accompanying the Queen in the new year.’

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.

might not be as serious as it sounds, it’s possible it could be a bit
of indigestion and they are just checking it over, let’s hope it’s
something simple like that.

‘But he is 90, he has been in
remarkable health. For somebody who has just done an 11-day tour of
Australia at 90, that’s amazing in itself as it is.

‘A lot of people that age could not even manage to deal with the long flights there and back.
‘I think it might have taken something out of him, I think they are pushing him to the limits doing that.’

In 2008, the Duke was also admitted to hospital for ‘assessment and treatment’ for a chest infection.

He is one of the most active members of the Royal family and has only recently started showing signs of slowing down.

The Duke of Edinburgh with a young Princess Elizabeth, Prince Charles, aged three and one-year-old Princess Anne at Clarence House in 1951

The Duke of Edinburgh with a young Princess Elizabeth, Prince Charles, aged three and one-year-old Princess Anne at Clarence House in 1951

year Prince Philip will accompany the Queen to ten regions of the UK
between March and July to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

senior members of the Royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, will be tasked with travelling abroad, sparking speculation
the Queen and Prince Philip are tiring of travelling long distances.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess
of Cornwall will travel to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New
Guinea. Charles will make additional trips to the Channel Islands and
Isle of Man.

William and Kate will travel to once of the smallest and most remote
nations in the world, Tuvalu, as well as Malaysia, Singapore and the
Solomon Islands.

Prince Harry will undertake his first
solo tour on behalf of the Queen, taking in Belize, Jamaica and the
Bahamas probably in early March.

The Queen and Prince Philip with their children, the Princess Royal, Prince Charles, Prince Edward (seated) and Prince Andrew

The Queen and Prince Philip with their children, the Princess Royal, Prince Charles, Prince Edward (seated) and Prince Andrew

Andrew will visit India; Princess Anne Mozambique and Zambia; the Duke
of Gloucester the British Virgin Islands and Malta; and the Duke of Kent
the Falkland Islands and Uganda.

Prince Edward and his wife, the
Countess of Wessex, have bagged what is considered to be one of the
‘plum’ trips – touring the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda,
Barbados, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent
and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, with an extra visit to

The Queen
and Prince Philip also chose not to attend Royal Variety Performance
amid rumours that the Duke was beginning to tire of the annual

It is believed he was not keen on the
tiring trip to Salford, the controversial location of a huge new home
for the BBC, and the monarch did not want to attend without him.

At the time Royal commentator Jennie Bond said the decision was ‘a very understandable concession to their age’.


By John Stevens
Stents are small metal tubes that are put into the arteries to help blood flow.

They are used to treat the type of coronary artery blockage that the Duke of Edinburgh suffered.

Every year, around 85,000  Britons are fitted with the  devices, which look like small pieces of scaffolding.

They are inserted into the artery during keyhole surgery and then expanded to widen the artery.

During the procedure a hollow tube containing the stent along with a small inflatable balloon is passed into an artery through the groin or arm.

The operator then uses X-ray screening to direct it into a coronary artery until it reaches the narrow or blocked section. The balloon is then gently inflated expanding the stent so it holds the narrowed blood vessel open.

How the stent works

When it is fully expanded the balloon is let down and removed, leaving the stent in place.

Most people can go home the same day or next day, but if it has been an emergency procedure, stays in hospital are usually longer. Sometimes there is a small amount of bleeding after the procedure.

In the majority of cases, people find that they feel back to normal after just a few days, but if the stent has been put in after a heart attack the recovery takes longer.However, in some cases the rigid metal can cause the walls of the artery to become inflamed or damaged, and scar.

In recent years, drug-eluting stents have been developed. These are coated with a tiny amount of a drug which is delivered to the area around the stent to prevent the scarring process and thus stop the artery from narrowing.

A new type of stent, called bioresorbable vascular scaffold, is currently being developed that is made of corn starch rather than metal. It gradually disappears over two to three years, so once the artery has been able to return to normal, the stent is metabolised by the body.

Stents cost up to £900 each, depending on the type used.

The Duke of Edinburgh talks to Aboriginal performers after watching a culture show in Australia in 2002

The Duke of Edinburgh talks to Aboriginal performers after watching a culture show in Australia in 2002


The Duke of Edinburgh is an incredibly active man, who has enjoyed good health for much of his life.

a royal has agreed with him and he has kept his lean figure throughout,
although his tall stature has diminished as he has got older.

90-year-old has shunned the pursuits of typical pensioners and even as
an octogenarian continued to compete in demanding carriage driving

most recent illness was an uncharacteristic cold in October that forced
him to pull out of an overnight stay in Italy for the launch of the ARC
Green Pilgrimage Network.

had just completed a busy 11-day official royal tour to Australia with
the Queen, 85, that saw them visit Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and

billed the long haul trip as the couple’s last to the continent because
of their age, but the Palace dismissed speculation it was a “farewell”

Most of Philip’s ailments and injuries have been sports-related.

suffered arthritis in his right wrist from playing polo and tried to
dull the pain with Butazolodin, a drug more usually given to lame horses
and recommended by his head groom.

It was reported he later stopped taking it because of the side effects.

1961, he broke a bone in his left ankle in a collision on the polo
field and in 1963, again playing polo, he suffered a gash to his left
arm which needed three stitches.

The Duke was X-rayed in 1964 after a fall from his polo pony when he pulled a ligament in his left shoulder.

He also developed synovitis, a rheumatoid condition of the tendon in the hand, after a polo fall.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh as they depart from Cork Airport after the four day State Visit to Ireland in May

Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh as they depart from Cork Airport after the four day State Visit to Ireland in May

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Do I sense a little envy in the bitter observations of “claw, strathclyde?
No you don’t,i was merely pointing out to all proclaiming that they (the royals) are so selfless by doing lots of “engagements” ,that they get waited on hand and foot and they get the best of everything wherever they go,its hardly a bad job. I have a nice house,an almost new car,a fantastic job,an amazing partner and a baby due today so please don’t feel sorry for me!!!!!!

This happens to your everyday Joe on practically a daily basis. There is no preferential treatment here for the Duke. Anybody in the medical world will tell you that everything is done to alleviate chest pains and to prevent a heart attack.
Some on here sound like they would have preferred an old man to have suffered just that than have minimal intrusive surgery to improve his quality of life.
This is a hardworking man who will never be able to retire. Think of that those of you who are moaning about your 37 hours a day.

I wish him well regardless of who or what he is, at the end of the day he is a human being and suffers in the same way as anyone else when they are not well. I can’t understand some of the sarcastic comments, although I DO understand that we all have elderly relatives and parents in the same situation or worse who do not get the same speedy care as the Duke, but all my life there has always been wealthy people who can afford the best in life, I am not one of those but I don’t spend my life worrying about it and I certainly do not wish anyone any harm, rich or poor. I know we pay for the Royal Family, but I would rather have one of those than a President, like Sarkozy or Obama, for which I might add we would have to pay for them and their families just the same. I hope the Duke gets well soon, and would like to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas!

“Oh I forgot, this total waste of space is a Royal…. – peter mail, milton keynes”_______ This total waste of space’, as you call him, is a war hero, who saw considerable action in the Royal Navy during World War 2. He has served this country superbly in the ensuing 70 years, carrying out one of the most boring jobs ever devised, without a single complaint. Do you imagine he really enjoys spending his entire life, always a few steps behind his wife, constantly forced to travel to remote spots of the UK, year in and year out, to carry out ceremonies in which he can have no interest whatsoever? A nation has to have a Head of State and we have been incredibly lucky to be given the Queen and Prince Philip in this role. But possibly you would rather see Tony and Cherie Blair waving to you from the Buckingham Palace balcony? The Duke of Edinburgh is a national treasure and we should give him every honour we can during the brief time he will be with us.

What a lovely picture of the queen looking at Prince Philip.
Keep going old chap

I can’t help laughing at the royal bootlickers comments and how they are ‘outraged’ and ‘disgusted’ by the comments of the anti-royalists. You really need to come out of your ‘idolising the royal family’ haze…
– Lisa, UK, 24/12/2011 10:24. There are those of use who understand the constitutional importance of a monarchy. I could equally ask you why you have to go onto websites and fill them with your bilious republican hate.

You just have to love this man. God bless him. Hope he recovers soon.

Glad the blokes recovering, one of the few Royals I like, always good for a laugh.
If he went private, ok by me, as long as HMTQ is paying.
What I want to know is why he didn’t go by private air/road ambulance, but by RAF SR which is a very expensive piece of kit to use as a private ambulance. Hope HMTQ is paying the tax payer back, they get enough freebies already !!

One of my favourite people.so I wish him well.
Love his anti PC comments, they make my day, particularly enjoy the TV newsreaders discomfort when ever
he upsets their liberal left wing doctrine.
He obviously has no time for fools, and may be irritable from time to time, but his love and support for the
Queen over the years is wonderful., long may he continue to be there for her,!!!

I have to ask if with all the impending comings and goings from the hospital over the next few days, will anybody be asked to pay parking charges in the hospital car park?
– Chris Boshelle, Erith Kent, 24/12/2011 ………………………………………What a ridiculous question.

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