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Britain’s Prince Philip, 96, in hospital with infection

Prince Philip, the 96-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has been admitted to hospital as a “precautionary measure” for treatment of an infection, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

Prince Philip
Prince Philip

The infection arose from “a pre-existing condition”, the palace said.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who is to retire from public duties later this year, was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London on Tuesday night.

Prince Philip had been due to accompany the monarch to the state opening of parliament on Wednesday as well as day two of the Royal Ascot horse races.

Their eldest son Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, accompanied Queen Elizabeth to the Houses of Parliament in his place.

“Prince Philip is in good spirits and is disappointed to be missing the state opening of parliament and Royal Ascot,” a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

“Her Majesty is being kept informed and will attend Royal Ascot as planned.”

Prince Philip was by Queen Elizabeth’s side on Saturday for Trooping the Colour, her official birthday military parade in London.

And he was with her at the opening day of Royal Ascot on Tuesday, wearing a grey top hat and tails in the sweltering heat.

But on day two, Queen Elizabeth was accompanied by Charles and his wife Camilla in the first open carriage in the procession.

– Supporting role –

Prince Philip traditionally holds his wife’s hand as the state opening of parliament as they process through the Palace of Westminster to the throne, where he sits at her side as she reads out her government’s programme of legislation.

The prince has been the queen’s dutiful husband for 70 years and announced his forthcoming retirement in May.

He is the longest-serving consort in British history, and is still in good health for a man of 96.

But the royal family’s patriarch, who conducted 219 royal engagements last year, has been gradually reducing his workload in his nineties.

Buckingham Palace would not go into details about Prince Philip’s condition or the type of infection. However, his past history of a bladder infection could indicate his current problem.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the prince was driven to hospital from Windsor Castle, west of London, which is close to Ascot racecourse.

He is not bedridden, but up and about inside the private hospital.

But the gruff royal patriarch does not take kindly to being fussed over or being out of action, so his notorious impatience may be tested the longer he stays inside.

The former naval officer’s irascible, no-nonsense approach, combined with his infamous and sometimes politically incorrect off-the-cuff remarks, has not made it easy for people to warm to his style.

But his forthright manner and unwavering devotion to duty and the queen has endeared him to the nation.

And observers say his quips put people at ease — while also providing a welcome contrast to the queen’s seriousness.

– MPs send best wishes –

In parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May said the whole House of Commons would join her in sending her best wishes to the prince.

“Our thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen and the whole royal family and we wish him a full and speedy recovery,” she said.

Born a prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip served with distinction in the British navy during World War II.

He married the then-princess Elizabeth in 1947 but their carefree life changed overnight with the premature death of her father, king George VI, in 1952, curtailing his highly promising naval career.

In a rare interview to mark his 90th birthday in 2011, the prince said he carved out his royal role by “trial and error”.

“I reckon I’ve done my bit so I want to enjoy myself a bit now,” he added, on his plans to wind down.

“It’s better to get out before you reach the sell-by date.”


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