Fresh out of the hospital and back home, Britain's Prince Philip turns 91
AFP June 11, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip celebrates his 91st birthday at home on Sunday, after five days of hospital treatment for a bladder infection sparked concerns about his health.
The outspoken Duke of Edinburgh left London's King Edward VII hospital on Saturday, just in time for his birthday.
He was hospitalized on Monday in the midst of huge Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking his wife's 60 years on the throne.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said Philip, the longest-serving royal consort in British history and the queen's stalwart companion throughout her reign, would mark his birthday privately "at home."
His illness came six months after he was treated for a blocked coronary artery after suffering chest pains.
The prince was in good spirits as he walked out of the hospital in central London, shaking hands with staff and smiling.
Asked if he was feeling better, he quipped: "Well, I wouldn't be coming out if I wasn't."
He was driven to Windsor Castle near London, the BBC reported.
Two gun salutes will be fired in London on Monday to mark his birthday, but a palace spokesman said it was not yet known whether he will be able to carry out his hectic schedule of royal engagements in the coming week.
"He continues to make a good recovery and will continue his convalescence at home," the spokesman said.
The illness forced Philip to miss the final two days of Britain's jubilee celebrations, including Monday's star-studded pop concert outside Buckingham Palace.
Crowds at the concert cheered and shouted "Philip! Philip!" after heir to the throne Prince Charles suggested; "If we shout loud enough, he might just hear us in hospital."
The Duke also missed an appearance by the main royals on the palace balcony on Tuesday, when crowds of flag-waving revelers again surrounded the building in a sea of red, white and blue.
He is famous for his off-color jokes — once telling a British student in China that "If you stay here much longer, you'll go home with slitty eyes" — but family members say he is a key source of support for the 86-year-old queen.
"He is her rock, really, and she is his," the couple's granddaughter Princess Eugenie told Britain's Sky News in an interview broadcast Saturday.
A YouGov poll for The Sunday Times newspaper found that Philip's popularity has risen in the wake of his illness, with 58 percent describing him as an asset to the royal family compared to 47 percent before the jubilee.
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