LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and her children visited her husband, Prince Philip, in the hospital Saturday, where he is recovering from minor heart surgery to ease chest pains he had suffered in the days before Christmas.
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Philip, 90, was taken to the hospital from the queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk late Friday after experiencing chest pains. He had a coronary stent put in after tests found a blocked artery was to blame, though the palace has refused to say if he suffered a heart attack.
Elizabeth was flown in by helicopter and arrived at Papworth Hospital, some 70 miles (113 kilometers) from London, shortly after 11 a.m. with three of her children — Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew. The palace said Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived at the hospital 45 minutes later by car and that no further family visits are expected.
Philip is "in good spirits but he is eager to leave," Buckingham Palace said. After spending 45 minutes with Philip, the royals traveled back to Sandringham by helicopter, it added.
Doctors said Philip could have suffered a heart attack, but without more information it was impossible to know for sure.
Coronary stenting is standard procedure both to fend off a heart attack or save a patient already in the midst of one, said Dr. Allan Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York-Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center.
Philip has been known to enjoy good health throughout his life and rarely misses royal engagements. Upon his 90th birthday in June, he announced plans to cut back his official duties.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron offered his support to Philip.
"The Prime Minister has been kept informed of the situation and wishes the Duke of Edinburgh a very speedy recovery," Cameron's office said.
Doctors say that some patients can leave the hospital a day after a similar medical procedure, but the palace said it does not know when Philip will be released. It said the prince remains "under observation" and that he is having a "short stay" in the hospital.
It is unclear if Philip will be able to join the royal family for the traditional Christmas celebrations at Sandringham, the queen's sprawling rural estate in Norfolk where the royal family gathers for the festivities. Philip had been there since Monday.
The palace said Elizabeth and the royal family will attend church as usual on Sunday.
Another key part of the royal family's Christmas celebrations is the queen's annual message to the nation, which this year will focus on family and community.
The queen has made a prerecorded Christmas broadcast on radio since 1952 and on television since 1957. She writes the speeches herself, and the broadcasts mark the rare occasion on which the queen voices her own opinion without government consultation.
The Duke of Edinburgh, known for his outspoken and sometimes brusque manner, has had a hectic year of engagements in 2011 including the wedding of William and Catherine, entertaining President Barack Obama and a trip to Australia.
There will be no let-up next year when Elizabeth celebrates her 60th year on the throne.
Despite his age, Philip generally has been in good health and has ploughed through a busy array of charity work and social engagements.
A pivotal figure in the House of Windsor, Philip has a reputation as a fiercely loyal consort who prefers outdoor pursuits to introspection.
However, in a BBC interview to mark his 90th birthday in June he said he was hoping for a quieter life in older age.
"I reckon I've done my bit," he said. "I want to enjoy myself a bit now with less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say."
Britain's tabloid newspapers have delighted over the years in recounting his many public gaffes.
He once told British students in China: "If you stay here much longer, you'll be slitty-eyed."
Born on the Greek island of Corfu in 1921, Philip served in Britain's Royal Navy before marrying Elizabeth. They have four children, including the heir to the throne, Charles.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.