Prince Philip due to have hip surgery

Prince Philip usually attends important events

GETTY DUTY Prince Philip usually attends important events

Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip is "comfortable and in good spirits" after he underwent a planned hip replacement surgery in a London hospital on Wednesday.

"His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has undergone a successful hip replacement operation and is progressing satisfactorily at this early stage", Buckingham Palace said. Before he went into the hospital on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT), he missed a number of family events, including an Easter church service with the queen and other members of the royal family.

He retired from public life a year ago but has since appeared several times at royal engagements alongside Queen Elizabeth.

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And all the while he encouraged others to lead a sporting and active life, as president of the National Playing Fields Association, a patron of Outward Bound and through the establishment of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. He was spotted driving on the Windsor Castle grounds as recently as last week, according to the U.K.'s Press Association.

The exact nature of Philip's hip problem was unclear but Buckingham Palace said an update on his health would be given when appropriate. "That's more important than someone's chronological age". At that time, he was supposed to attend the State opening of Parliament with Queen Elizabeth.

The two were introduced in 1939 when then princess Elizabeth's father king George VI and his family toured the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, in England's south coast, where Philip was a cadet.

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Very last June, Prince Philip put in two nights in hospital as a "precautionary measure" to its treating an undisclosed infection.

The week before that, Prince Philip pulled out of an engagement where he was due to formally hand his role as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards onto his son, Prince Andrew, but could not attend as he was feeling unwell.

There will be physiotherapy exercises to do at home and crutches are needed for about four to six weeks.

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He has been reported to be hobbled by hip pain, but the news of the planned surgery took many by surprise.

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