April 4, 2018 / 6:51 AM / 16 days ago

Philip, husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, due to have hip surgery

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince Philip, the 96-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth, is due to have hip surgery on Wednesday at a private hospital in London.

Police officers stand guard outside the King Edward VII's Hospital where Britain's Prince Philip has been admitted for surgery, in central London, Britain, April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Greek-born Philip has remained at his wife’s side throughout her 66-year reign, the longest in British history, and has earned a reputation for brusque comments and occasional gaffes at some of the thousands of ceremonial events he has attended.

Philip, or the Duke of Edinburgh as he is known in Britain, retired from public life last August, quipping at the time that he was no longer able to “stand up much”.

He was admitted on Tuesday to the King Edward VII Hospital in London which is regularly used by the royals.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, leads members of the royal family as they arrive to attend the Christmas Day church service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The exact nature of Philip’s hip problem was unclear but Buckingham Palace said an update on his health would be given when appropriate.

Outspoken, irascible and intensely private, the former naval officer has been one of the most influential figures in the British royal family for decades. At times blunt to the point of rudeness, Philip is Elizabeth’s most important support.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Both the queen, 91, and Philip have suffered some health issues in recent years.

The queen missed a traditional Christmas church service in late 2016 for the first time in decades due to a heavy cold and was hospitalized in March 2013 with symptoms of gastroenteritis.

Last June, Philip spent two days in hospital as a precautionary measure for the treatment of an infection and he pulled out of another event in March because of ill health, according to British newspaper reports.

He did not accompany Elizabeth to a church service on Maundy Thursday because of the hip problem, a royal source said last week.

Philip also missed the Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel, where his grandson Prince Harry is due to marry Meghan Markle next month.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alistair Smout

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