...as Philip stoically battles on regardless after heart op
Brussels could slap fines on UK
THE Duke of Edinburgh is recovering in hospital following successful surgery for a pre-existing heart condition – just three months short of his 100th birthday.
Prince Philip, the nation’s longest serving consort, underwent the procedure at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London on Wednesday.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement yesterday: ‘ His Royal Highness will remain in hospital for treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days.’
The announcement sparked renewed concern due to the duke’s advanced age.
He has already spent 17 nights in hospital after being admitted to the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone, central London, on February 16, on his doctor’s advice.
He has never before spent as long in hospital. The duke – whose 100th birthday will be on June 10 – walked into King Edward VII’s unaided after travelling there from Windsor Castle, where he has spent most of lockdown with the Queen.
A royal source had previously said that it had not been an emergency admission and was down to ‘an abundance of caution’. Philip was admitted after feeling unwell and was treated for an infection.
But on Monday, he was transferred to Bart’s – the country’s leading heart hospital – for tests and observation on ‘an existing heart condition’. Treatment for the infection was also to continue.
In 2011, Philip was rushed to hospital by helicopter from Sandringham after suffering chest pains as the royal family prepared for Christmas. In the serious health scare, he was treated for a blocked coronary artery at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire and had a stent fitted – a minimally invasive procedure. The Palace declined to give details of
the latest exact surgery. But experts have suggested that a decade on, the stent may have needed replacing, requiring a further procedure.
It is also possible that the duke had aortic stenosis, a common condition in old age where the main valve in the heart becomes stiff or narrowed, reducing blood flow to the main artery.
Once requiring open heart surgery, the valve now tends to be replaced using another minimally-invasive procedure which patients can recover from ‘in days’.
Dr Derek Connolly, a consultant interventional cardiologist at Birmingham City Hospital, said Philip is in ‘the best possible hands’. He explained: ‘We obviously don’t know the procedure he’s undergone but we do know he’s got coronary disease from when he had the stent fitted ten years ago.
‘Older patients often get stenosis of the aortic valve but they will be checking for other conditions, such as rhythm disturbances and the heart failing.
‘Charles Knight, the chief executive at Bart’s, is one of the most eminent cardiologists in Europe so he’s in exactly the right place, whichever of these it is. The team at Bart’s really are world-leaders when it comes to cardiology.’ The Duchess of Cornwall revealed the Duke of Edinburgh was ‘slightly improving’ but ‘hurts at moments’ as she carried out a visit to a community vaccination centre on Wednesday.
On a visit to South London, Camilla was heard telling staff that morning: ‘We’ll keep our fingers crossed.’
It is not known whether the duke had undergone the procedure at this point.
Philip is patron of the British Heart Foundation, which sent its best wishes, saying the royal had been a ‘long-term advocate for heart research’.
Philip was visited in King Edward VII’s Hospital last month by the Prince of Wales, who made a 200-mile round trip from Highgrove and stayed for around half an hour.
Along with the Queen, Philip received his Covid-19 jab in January.
After announcing the surgery, the Palace shared an image on social media to mark World Book Day of the Queen and Philip together in 1976 in the library at Balmoral Castle.
The Queen has been carrying on with her official duties, holding her weekly audience with the Prime Minister by telephone from Windsor on Wednesday.
Yesterday, she had a telephone audience with the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston.
Meanwhile, ITV vowed to go ahead with broadcasting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, despite criticism in light of Philip’s ongoing health problems. The broadcaster released a trailer yesterday, ahead of the two-hour show next Monday, featuring the same footage put out by CBS.
BRUSSELS threatened legal action yesterday after a bitter row exploded over the Government’s decision to unilaterally extend a grace period for Irish border checks.
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said the EU felt it was dealing with a partner it ‘simply cannot trust’ and was examining its legal options – a move that could see the UK being fined or extra tariffs being slapped on British goods.
MEPs also indicated they could delay formal ratification of the wider Brexit deal, the Trade and Co- operation Agreement (TCA), pending the outcome of the dispute.
But Boris Johnson insisted that ‘goodwill and common sense’ would bring a resolution to the issues over the Irish Sea trading arrangements, which have lingered since Britain formally left the post-Brexit transition period.
The Prime Minister said last night the problems were ‘ eminently solvable’ despite threats of legal action.
On Wednesday night, the Government angered EU ministers by unilaterally extending a grace period that limits red tape on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson said: ‘We are taking some temporary and technical measures to ensure that there are no barriers in the Irish Sea, to make sure things flow freely between GB and NI, and that’s what you would expect. Obviously, these are matters for continuing intensive discussions with our friends.
‘I’m sure with a bit of goodwill and common sense all these technical problems are eminently solvable.’
The Northern Ireland Protocol delivered a temporary solution to prevent a hard border in Ireland – which goes against the Good Friday Agreement.
Goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain have been subjected to added processes and checks since the Brexit transition period ended on December 31. To give businesses time to adjust, grace periods on checks were introduced to prevent red tape.
The first of these grace periods was due to expire at the end of March, but the Government has said it will be extended until
October. The announcement, which took the EU by surprise, prompted fury.
Mr Coveney described the move as ‘very frustrating’, telling RTE: ‘This is not the first time this has happened, that they (the EU) are negotiating with a partner that they simply cannot trust.’ He said he preferred ‘engagement’, but the UK Government was driving the EU towards legal action.
The EU also threatened to fine the UK – or to slap harmful tariffs on goods – over the row.
A European Commission source said it could take bring legal action for a breach of the protocol. It means that the European Court of Justice can fine the UK, and the EU can increase tariffs.
A UK source said they were ‘surprised’ by the EU’s reaction and accused Brussels of making a ‘song and dance’ about it.