Prince Philip has been dramatically admitted to the London Clinic for what is being described as an “exploratory operation” on his abdomen, and he is expected to remain in hospital for two weeks, Buckingham Palace said tonight.
The admission to hospital for an unspecified operation to be carried out tomorrow under general anaesthetic comes after the Duke looked unwell at a coronation commemoration ceremony, on Tuesday, and missed several engagements.
Various news outlets in the UK are now claiming that the reason that Philip missed events earlier this week was because he had lost his voice as a result of having endoscopic scans, which have now resulted in this admission.
The news that he was to be admitted to hospital was only relayed to Downing Street this afternoon, and was not mentioned to David Cameron in the weekly audience with the Queen, Sky News is reporting.
The two-week timeframe indicates this is a serious operation.
However, in typical stiff upper lip fashion, the Duke attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace this afternoon before being taken to the private London Clinic.
He will spend his 92nd birthday, Monday, in hospital, and will miss the Trooping of the Colour, marking the Queen’s official birthday next weekend as well.
As happened last year during the jubilee celebrations, the Queen looks likely to be forced to attend several key engagements of the royal summer on her own, including the Garter service and Royal Ascot.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has been admitted to the London Clinic for an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations. He is expected to stay in hospital for up to two weeks. Further updates will be issued when appropriate.”
It is not known what the operation is for.
Speculation that Philip's health may be failing faster then the palace had been letting on intensified after it was revealed he passed on Tuesday's evening celebrations, and also missed several engagements in the days before the service.
And yesterday Peter Philips, his grandson (via Princess Anne) stirred yet more speculation when he was asked in an interview on breakfast TV in the UK if Prince Philip was feeling 'under the weather' and replied: "Yes, but you also have got to remember his age, both of their ages, you know... what they do at their age - they do a lot more than most other pensioners of their equivalent age so... if occasionally there is the odd engagement cancelled, it shouldn't come as such a surprise, given the workload that they do have."
It is now believed that part of the Queen’s decision to cut back on long-haul travel is related more to her husband’s frailty than her own.
Extraordinarily, Prince Philip was in full public view today, attending a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. He still attends up to 200 public engagements a year, and in April flew to Canada for an event.
The Queen is said to be concerned, but is unlikely to visit for a few days.
David Cameron has tweeted his best wishes for a speedy recovery.