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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh underwent sudden heart surgery after suffering chest pains at the royal family’s winter retreat.
According to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s 90-year old husband Prince Philip underwent a successful “invasive procedure of coronary stenting” at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire. Given his age, he is likely to remain in the hospital for a few days for observation.
The royal family usually spends Christmas at Sandringham House in Norfolk. But just a few days after his arrival, the duke began to experience chest pains, and so he was airlifted to Papworth, which specializes in disorders of the heart. Doctors diagnosed a blocked coronary artery and performed the stenting to try to remove the blockage. During the procedure, a balloon surrounded by a metal stent is inserted into the artery. After inflating the balloon in order to compress the plaque, it is withdrawn, leaving the stent behind to ensure an open path.
Despite his age, the Duke of Edinburgh is known for his good health, and he was an avid carriage driver into his 80s. The last time he was in the hospital was April 2008 when he suffered a chest infection. While most of his contemporaries are well into their retirement, the duke continues to be an active member of the royal family. He recently accompanied the Queen on an 11 day tour of Australia, and the BBC reports that he appeared to be in good health at a recent luncheon. In past years, he has undertaken around 400 official engagements annually, though as his 90th birthday approached, he announced his intent to reduce his workload.
Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the duke’s medical troubles were probably nothing to worry about. “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.”
He may, however, have to miss the traditional Christmas Day service at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and the Boxing Day shoot.