Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is to undergo hip surgery on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
A statement said the 96-year-old was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Tuesday ahead of a “planned” operation.
The exact kind of operation has not been disclosed but the most common type of hip surgery is a replacement, deemed a major procedure by doctors.
It is often only considered after other remedies for joint pain have been explored, according to the NHS.
The procedure can be performed under either general anaesthetic, which carries its own risks, or an epidural, where the lower part of the body is numbed.
Scarlett McNally, an orthopaedic surgeon, said: “At this stage we do not know what type of hip operation the Duke of Edinburgh is due to undergo.
“All operations may have complications and some patients are at greater risk. A person’s fitness is more important than their chronological age. Surgeons will always take account of these risks in helping patients decide whether they wish to proceed with surgery.
“Hip surgery is very effective at relieving pain and improving mobility, including in older patients. A whole team is involved including anaesthetists and physiotherapists. Performing it on higher risk patients still provides great benefit for the majority.”
The Daily Mail’s Richard Kay, a journalist known to have close links to palace courtiers, wrote on Wednesday that a close friend of the Duke saw the procedure as a solution to pain which had become “acute” in recent months.
It will also enable Philip to continue his beloved hobby of horse carriage driving.
“For him, it is a simple choice,” Kay reports the friend as saying. “If without the procedure it means he cannot continue carriage driving, then it is worth undergoing an operation.
“Above all he wants to remain active.”
Philip retired from public engagements in August last year and is known for his active, healthy lifestyle, despite suffering from a number of health problems in recent years.
The Duke spent five days in King Edward VII’s after being taken ill following the pageant along the River Thames in 2012. And he spent Christmas 2011 in hospital being treated for a blocked coronary artery.
Previously most of Philip’s ailments and injuries have been sports-related.
He suffers arthritis in his right wrist from playing polo and tried to dull the pain with Butazolodin, a drug more usually given to lame horses and recommended by his head groom. It was reported he later stopped taking it because of the side effects.
In 1961, he broke a bone in his left ankle in a collision on the polo field and in 1963, again playing polo, he suffered a gash to his left arm which needed three stitches.
The Duke was X-rayed in 1964 after a fall from his polo pony when he pulled a ligament in his left shoulder.
Royals’ favourite hospital recently rapped over patient safety
King Edward VII’s Hospital in London describes itself as the capital’s “foremost private hospital”, but was recently ordered to improve patient safety after a series of deaths.
Opened in 1899, the Marylebone institution is favoured among senior royals, with Philip, the Queen, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother among past patients.
In 2003, the Queen had surgery at King Edward VII’s for a torn cartilage in her right knee and lesions in her face.
The Queen Mother had a fishbone removed from her throat there in 1982 and later had two hip operations in the 1990s, undergoing one when she was 97, a year older than Philip today.
Philip’s last reported stay came in 2012 after suffering the effects of standing for hours in cold, damp rain during the Diamond Jubilee pageant.
The Duchess of Cambridge stayed at the hospital for three nights the same year for treatment with hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness, while pregnant with Prince George.
But a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission reported a “backlog” of 671 incomplete investigations into patient incidents and no medical records of outpatients.
The hospital was rated as “requires improvement” by inspectors last year.
In the year to September 2017, 181 clinical incidents were reported, including four that resulted in death.
Surgery at the hospital, which treats about 4,000 patients a year, was described by officials as requiring “improvement”.
King Edward VII’s Hospital said at the time of the report that it “places the delivery of the highest standards of medical and nursing care to patients as our priority.”
With reporting from Sara C Nelson.