Princes visit Duke of Edinburgh in hospital


The Duke of Edinburgh's grandchildren brought him some Christmas cheer as he prepared to spend a third night in hospital after treatment for a blocked coronary artery.

Six of the royal grandchildren, including Princes William and Harry, visited 90-year-old Philip at Papworth Hospital near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire this afternoon.

The Duke of Cambridge and his younger brother drove separate cars to the hospital from Sandringham, the Queen's private Norfolk estate, taking the Duke of York's daughters Beatrice and Eugenie and the Princess Royal's children Zara and Peter with them for the 45-minute visit.

They made the journey after enjoying Christmas Day lunch at Sandringham, having changed into more casual attire than their earlier outfits for the traditional Christmas church service at the estate.

William, who is rarely photographed wearing glasses, wore them as he drove a Range Rover with Peter and Zara as his passengers, while Harry drove an Audi with Beatrice and Eugenie inside.

Their Christmas cheer would have been a welcome distraction for the Duke who is thought to have missed his first Christmas morning service at Sandringham, an annual tradition for the Royal Family since the early 1990s.

Around 3,000 well-wishers gathered outside St Mary Magdalene Church to see the royals, including the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

It was the Duchess of Cambridge's first time at the service, which was also attended by England rugby player Mike Tindall and the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, who married in the summer.

Philip was taken to Papworth, a specialist heart hospital, on Friday night after complaining 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.

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

Tonight will be his third night in hospital and no details have been given about when he will be discharged.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Duke is in good spirits and will remain in hospital under observation for a short period.

"The Queen will continue to be briefed on his condition. We do not have details of a release date at this stage."

Prayers were said for Philip during today's service at Sandringham, which was broadcast to crowds outside.

Sandringham rector the Rev Jonathan Riviere told the congregation: "We pray for the Queen and the Royal Family. Especially today we pray for Prince Philip and his continued recovery."

The Queen's Christmas Day message, recorded before her husband fell ill, described the importance of family.

In her annual address to the nation, she spoke of the weddings of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and of Zara and Mike Tindall.

In times of hardship we often "find strength from our families" and in a crisis communities "break down barriers and bind together" to help each other, she said.

"The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together."

It is thought the Royal family's Boxing Day shoot, usually led by the Duke, will go ahead as planned.