The prank phone call saga in which two Australian DJs impersonated the queen and got connected to a nurse looking after Kate Middleton took a tragic turn today after the nurse who was working on reception in the early hours of Tuesday morning and put the call through committed suicide. She was found shortly after 9 a.m. today.
A St. James’s Palace Spokesman said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha. Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”
The hospital issued a statement today, saying: "With very deep sadness, the death is confirmed of a member of our nursing staff. Jacintha Saldanha has worked at the hospital for four years. She was an excellent nurse and well respected and popular with her colleagues.
"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her through this difficult time. Jacintha was a first class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time with us. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and friends."
Her husband and two children have been informed of her death.
A spokesperson for the UK counselling group the Samaritans said that suicide was often the result of many complex factors and urged people not to jump to conclusions. They urged people to talk about their problems and not bottle them up.
Jacintha was found at an address yards away from King Edward VII Hospital, where she worked, just before 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.
The emergency services were called and two ambulances were dispatched to the central London residence.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police were called at approximately 9:25 a.m. on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious an address in Weymouth Street, W1. London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Enquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage."
The tragic news will heap pressure on 2DayFM, the radio station which made the call.
The station is already serving two five-year license probations after serious breaches of the Australian regulator's code.
The broadcaster was handed the first reprimand in 2009 after a 14-year-old girl was attached to a lie detector and then said live on air that she had been raped.
The girl and her mother featured in a segment called "Lie Detector" on 2DayFM's breakfast show hosted by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O'Neil Henderson.
The mother asked the daughter: “Have you ever had sex?” The 14-year-old replied: “I've already told you the story about this ... and don't look at me and smile because it’s not funny.”
After a pause, she raised her voice with frustration and said: “Oh OK, I got raped when I was 12 years old.”
After a long pause, Sandilands then asked “Right ... is that the only experience you've had?" before the mother admitted she knew of the rape “a couple of months ago".
Her daughter yelled, “Yet you still asked me the question.”
A spokesperson for holding company Austereo later said “Kyle and Jackie and 2Day FM were saddened by the turn of events this morning. In the normal course of preparing the segment all due care and consideration was given to the family and clearly we didn't know anything about this traumatic incident. The moment we became aware of it was live on air and we brought it to an end as soon as we possibly could.”
Regulars again ruled against the station when it found that 2DayFM's "Kyle & Jackie O Show" breached decency codes when broadcaster Kyle Sandilands called a female journalist a "fat slag" in November.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority said the comments were "deeply derogatory and offensive"
He was reported as saying: "What a fat bitter thing you are, you deputy editor of an online thing. You've got a nothing job anyway. You're a piece of s**t. You’re a bulls**t artist, girl. That's what you are. You should be fired from your job."
The station apologised but did not fire the presenter.
The call to Middleton's hospital was made by DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig. Greig asked to be connected to "Kate, my grandaughter," and was put through by the receptionist.
The DJs issued an apology following a furor which erupted in the U.K. following broadcast of the call. The duo said in a statement: ‘We were very surprised that our call was put through. We thought we'd be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents. We're very sorry if we've caused any issues."
However they have continued to promote the prank on the radio station's website.