Prince Philip could face weeks more in hospital after being transferred to an NHS trust for a pre-existing heart condition, medics warned today.
Buckingham Palace today revealed The Duke of Edinburgh had been moved from the private King Edward VII Hospital to St Bartholomew’s – commonly known as Barts – for ‘testing and observation’ for an undisclosed, underlying heart issue.
The Prince, 99, had spent two weeks at the private facility with a mystery infection, having initially been admitted for a ‘few days’ on February 16 after feeling unwell. His infection is not related to coronavirus and it’s not clear whether it is linked to his heart condition.
NHS cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra told MailOnline the Prince could be in hospital for ‘four to six weeks’ and given intravenous antibiotics if it transpires that he has a heart infection.
However, Buckingham Palace suggested the Duke could be discharged by the end of the week and insiders said it was ‘good news’ he’d been moved to a second hospital.
Despite enjoying an active lifestyle and carrying out Royal engagements until 2017, Prince Philip has suffered with an undisclosed heart condition for 30 years, which was only made public in 2007.
The Duke – patron of the British Heart Foundation – also had a stent inserted during surgery for a blocked artery in 2011 after experiencing chest pains. The following year he developed a urinary infection and in 2013 he underwent abdominal surgery for an undisclosed condition.
More recently, he was admitted for an infection ‘arising from a pre-existing condition’ in June 2018 and again in December 2019 due to complications from an underlying problem.
Dr Malhotra told MailOnline it was ‘difficult to draw conclusions’ about the Prince’s current condition with the ‘limited information’.
Prince Philip (pictured last July) could face weeks more in hospital after being transferred to an NHS trust for a pre-existing heart condition, medics warned today
The Duke of Edinburgh was today moved from the private King Edward VII Hospital to St Bartholomew’s – commonly known as Barts – for ‘testing and observation’ for an undisclosed, underlying heart issue (pictured being transferred)
Police officers stand guard outside the Barts NHS hospital this morning
But he claimed the length of his hospital stay and Buckingham Palace’s reference to his heart condition meant the ‘likely diagnosis’ was a bacterial infection of the heart.
He said: ‘Infective endocarditis is the most likely link. Any infection related to the heart combined with a long stay in hospital, [endocarditis] is the most likely diagnosis.’
From a blocked coronary artery to a urinary infection, Prince Philip’s ailments in past 10 years
Prince Philip has enjoyed excellent health for a 99-year-old and still enjoys an active lifestyle. But in recent years he has struggled a little more with illness, suffering from a number of ailments over the past decade, including:
- December 2011, four days in hospital: Prince Philip is airlifted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire from Sandringham two days before Christmas after suffering chest pains, and undergoes surgery for a blocked coronary artery
- June 2012, six days: Philip is taken to hospital after developing a urinary infection during the river pageant to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
- June 2013, 11 days: He has abdominal surgery for an undisclosed condition and spends his 92nd birthday in hospital
- December 2016: Both the Queen and Philip suddenly cancel plans to leave London for their festive break in Norfolk after they both come down with heavy colds
- June 2016: The Duke pulls out of a Battle of Jutland anniversary event citing a minor ailment
- June 2017, three days: Philip is admitted to hospital as ‘a precautionary measure’ for an infection arising from a pre-existing condition
- April 2018, 11 days: The Duke spends nearly a fortnight in hospital following his successful hip replacement
- December 2019, five days: He is treated at King Edward Hospital in London for a ‘pre-existing condition’
- February 2021, 14 days (so far): Prince Philip is admitted to King Edward VII Hospital for treatment for an infection, before being transferred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital 14 days later.
Timeline of Prince Philip’s latest stay in hospital
Here is the timeline of the Duke of Edinburgh’s stay in hospital since his admission two weeks ago:
- Tuesday, February 16 – The duke is admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital on a precautionary basis after feeling unwell. He travels from Windsor Castle by car. Philip is said to be in ‘good spirits’ and walks into the private hospital unaided. He is expected to stay for a few days.
- Friday, February 19 – Sources say Philip is now expected to remain in hospital for ‘observation and rest’ over the weekend and into the next week.
- Saturday, February 20 – The Prince of Wales makes a 200 mile-round trip to see his father, spending around half an hour at the hospital.
- Tuesday, February 23 – Seven days after the duke was admitted, the Palace says he is being treated for an infection and is ‘comfortable and responding to treatment’, but is not expected to leave hospital for several more days. The Earl of Wessex says the duke is a ‘lot better’ and looking forward to getting out.
- Today – Philip is transferred in an ambulance to St Bartholomew’s Hospital for treatment for an infection and testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition, Buckingham Palace says. The duke is shielded from public view by large umbrellas as he leaves King Edward VII’s Hospital.
Dr Malhotra said patients with the infection are normally treated with intravenous antibiotics for four to six weeks and regularly monitored for heart function.
The infection of the inner lining of the heart is most commonly caused by bacteria, often found on the skin, entering the blood and travelling to the heart.
Although the heart is usually well protected against infection, it may be easier for bacteria to bypass the immune system in people who are elderly and have other heart issues.
Dr Malhotra added: ‘This is all speculation, it’s difficult to draw conclusions with the limited information.
‘He’s far healthier than the average person of his age and is clearly a very robust and resilient man. I wish him very well and hope he gets better soon.’
Barts describes itself as an ‘internationally renowned hospital’ and a ‘centre of excellence for both cardiac and cancer care’, located in the City of London near St Paul’s Cathedral.
The site includes Europe’s largest specialised cardiovascular service at Barts Health Centre, while Barts Cancer Centre has a ‘global reputation for treating common and rare cancers’, according to the hospital. The clinic offers both private and NHS treatment.
The NHS said the centre aspires to perform more heart surgery, MRI and CT scans than any other service in the world.
A specialist heart attack centre delivers emergency care 24 hours a day, with rapid access to a team with specialist expertise and equipment.
In January 2020 the service was rated number one for cardiac arrest survival rates in London, the NHS said, and the hospital will celebrate its 900th birthday in 2023
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said today: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh was today transferred from King Edward VII’s Hospital to St Bartholomew’s Hospital where doctors will continue to treat him for an infection, as well as undertake testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition.
‘The Duke remains comfortable and is responding to treatment but is expected to remain in hospital until at least the end of the week.’
Shortly after 11am today, a patient was taken away from King Edward VII Hospital in an ambulance, but umbrellas screened them from press and broadcast cameras as they were leaving the hospital and entering an ambulance.
A marked police van blocked the side street at the the exclusive private hospital on Beaumont Street in Marylebone, and there was also a police presence ensuring the road was clear.
Uniformed officers also stood along the street beside the hospital to keep traffic and passers by moving. At a rear entrance, umbrellas were used to shield the gap between the hospital and the NHS ambulance.
While Buckingham Palace has not officially confirmed whether the ambulance was for the Duke, ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship tweeted: ‘We can only imagine – although we don’t know – this was for Prince Philip.’
The Duke was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital last month as a precautionary measure after feeling unwell and walked in unaided. Buckingham Palace said last Wednesday he was ‘comfortable’ and responding to treatment.
Both Philip and the Queen have received Covid-19 vaccinations and his infection is not related to coronavirus. On February 20, Prince Charles made a 200-mile round trip from his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire to see him.
The Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter previously said Philip was likely to have ‘requested’ his eldest son’s presence to discuss the future of the Royal Family, given recent developments with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirming they would not be returning as senior royals.
The Duke, who is three months away from his 100th birthday, has also spoken to other members of the Royal Family on the phone. The Queen has remained at Windsor Castle where Philip had previously been staying.
Last Tuesday, the Earl of Wessex said Philip was ‘a lot better’ when it was announced the Duke would spend several more days in hospital being treated for the infection.
Prince Edward told Sky News: ‘He’s a lot better, thank you very much indeed, and he’s looking forward to getting out, which is the most positive thing, so we keep our fingers crossed.’