The Duke of Edinburgh’s recent health scares

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4-min read

At the age of 99, the Duke of Edinburgh looked sprightly as he carried out a rare official public engagement at Windsor Castle last summer.

Philip made his own way down the four steps of the Equerries’ Entrance carefully but entirely unaided as he joked with soldiers from The Rifles at the brief military ceremony.

But seven months on, he was admitted to hospital on February 16 2021 as a precaution after feeling unwell.

Transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles
The Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles (Adrian Dennis/PA)

A week later, Buckingham Palace confirmed he was being treated for an infection and was “comfortable and responding to treatment”, but was not expected to leave hospital for several days.

He was eventually transferred from the private King Edward VII’s Hospital to London’s NHS hospital St Bartholomew’s – home to Europe’s largest specialised cardiovascular service.

He underwent successful heart surgery, with his hospital stay becoming his longest ever.

The duke, who was set to turn 100 in June, became known for his ability to bounce back after a number of scares and medical procedures.

Duke of Edinburgh hip operation
The Duke of Edinburgh leaving hospital after a hip operation in 2018 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Abdominal surgery, bladder infections, a blocked coronary artery and a hip operation have seen him admitted to hospital in recent years.

He also walked away from a serious car crash unscathed at the age of 97.

On January 17 2019, Philip was involved in an accident when the Land Rover Freelander he was driving was hit by another car as he pulled out of a driveway near the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk on to a busy A-road.

The duke was initially trapped and had to be helped through the sunroof or windscreen by a passing motorist after his car flipped over.

Philip escaped injury but was shocked and shaken by the accident which left two female passengers in the other vehicle requiring hospital treatment.

Duke of Edinburgh's car crash
Broken glass and car parts on the side of the A149 near to the Sandringham Estate where the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road accident (John Stillwell/PA)

A nine-month-old baby boy in the other car was unhurt.

Buckingham Palace said the duke saw a doctor as a precaution but was not injured although witnesses suggested Philip was bleeding after suffering a cut.

Just before Christmas in 2019, the duke was admitted to London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital for treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”, spending four nights there.

Buckingham Palace described his four-night stay as a “precautionary measure”.

Philip looked gaunt as he was driven away from hospital.

Duke of Edinburgh in hospital
Philip leaving hospital in 2019 (Philip Toscano/PA)

Ahead of lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, the duke moved from the Sandringham estate to Windsor Castle to be with the Queen.

He celebrated his 99th birthday during his stay, and looked fit and well as he carried out the solo engagement with The Rifles in the castle grounds in July 2020.

Philip received his first coronavirus vaccine on January 9 2021.

Six weeks later on February 16, the duke was admitted to hospital for a precautionary stay after feeling unwell.

He was visited by the Prince of Wales.

On February 23, seven days after he was admitted, the Palace said Philip was being treated for an infection and was “comfortable and responding to treatment”, but was not expected to leave hospital for several days.

His youngest son the Earl of Wessex said the duke was a lot better and looking forward to getting out.

Asked whether Philip, known for his no-fuss approach, was frustrated to be in hospital, Edward laughed and replied: “Just a bit.”

But on March 1, the duke was moved by ambulance to St Bartholomew’s and had heart surgery two days later, before being moved back to King Edward VII’s Hospital to recuperate and continue his treatment.

Philip was finally discharged from hospital on March 16 – a month after he was first admitted – looking gaunt as he was driven back to Windsor Castle by car to be reunited with the Queen.