Prince Philip, formally known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has undergone what the BBC calls "minimally invasive" heart surgery at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital. He first suffered chest pains earlier this evening at Sandringham, the Norfolk estate 110 miles north of London where Her Majesty the Queen--the sovereign of the British Commonwealth and formal head of the Church of England--celebrates the Christmas holiday every year. The family has gathered at Sandringham in a larger group than usual, at about 27 relatives, as they have much to celebrate. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration marking her 60th year on the throne is approaching in 2012, her daughter Anne, the Princess Royal, has a new grandchild, Savannah, and Prince William of Wales, the Queen's grandson, married the beautiful and popular Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge this past April--so this will be her first Christmas celebrating with the Royal family.
World-renowned royal reporter Victoria Arbiter, the daughter of legendary royal reporter Dickie Arbiter, stated on Twitter: "Prince Philip is considered to be in excellent health. According to the Daily Telegraph he took part in 400 official engagements this year." According to the official statement from Buckingham Palace, medical tests confirmed a blocked coronary artery, so he underwent surgery known as "coronary stenting" to correct the problem. This involves pushing a balloon into the blocked artery and inflating it to remove the blockage. There is a metal sleeve fitted over the balloon; this is the "stent." At the conclusion of the procedure, the balloon is removed from the body, leaving the stent in place. This is a very routine surgery that is performed all over the world to great success many times a day. He is expected to remain in the hospital for at least a couple of days for observation, according to BBC royal correspondent Nick Witchell. He was flown there in a helicopter and was not accompanied by any other member of the royal family, likely due to security concerns. He will most likely make a speedy recovery, and his United States allies wish him and all the Queen's family nothing but good health, happiness and prosperity this holiday season and in the coming year. The Duke of Edinburgh is the longest-serving royal consort in British history.