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Prank call dupes hospital treating U.K. duchess

AFP-JIJI

The British hospital treating Prince William’s pregnant wife, Catherine, admitted on Wednesday that it had released her private medical details to hoax callers from an Australian radio station.

Presenters from Sydney’s 2Day FM station — posing as Queen Elizabeth II and William’s father, Prince Charles — got through to a nurse at London’s private King Edward VII’s Hospital, where Kate is being treated for acute morning sickness.

The hospital confirmed that a nurse had discussed Kate’s condition and said it “deeply regrets” the incident, which happened early Tuesday.

The radio station has also apologized.

The hoax is deeply embarrassing for the hospital, which over the years has also treated the queen; her husband, Prince Philip; and Charles’ wife, Camilla. The queen is its patron.

“This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore,” said the hospital’s chief executive, John Lofthouse. “We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously, and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols.”

Lofthouse said the hospital was deciding whether to take legal action.

“I’ve received advice that what the Australian broadcasters did may well have broken the law,” he said. “On the other hand, they’ve apologized for it, so we’re going to have a long and careful think about what, if anything, we do.”

2Day FM presenter Mel Greig, impersonating the 86-year-old monarch, dialed the hospital and asked the operator, “Could I please speak to Kate, please, my granddaughter?”

The operator replied, “Oh, yes, just hold on, ma’am.”

The call was put on hold, and Greig’s copresenter, Michael Christian, asked incredulously: “Are they putting us through? If this has worked, it’s the easiest prank call we’ve ever made. Your accent sucked, by the way.”

Greig was put through to a ward where a nurse told her that Kate was “sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night.”

“She’s been given some fluids to rehydrate her because she was quite dehydrated when she came in,” the nurse added. “But she’s stable at the moment.”

Greig replied, “Oh, well, I’ll just feed my little corgis, then,” while two of her colleagues made barking noises in an impression of the queen’s dogs.

“So when is a good time to come and visit her?” Greig asked. “Because I’m the queen, so I need a lift down there.”

She then asked Christian, posing as 64-year-old Charles, when he could take her to the hospital.

The nurse suggested any time after 9 a.m., after Kate had “freshened up.”

“She hasn’t had any retching with me since I’ve been on duty, and she has been sleeping on and off,” the nurse added.

2Day FM said it “sincerely apologizes” for any inconvenience that had been caused by the prank.

“The radio segment was done with the best intentions and we wish Kate and her family all the best,” the station posted on Twitter.

It is not the first time that the royal family have been targeted by hoax callers.

In 1995, Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard, posing as Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, was put through to the queen. The pair spoke for around 15 minutes, and Brassard even managed to elicit a promise that the queen would try to influence Quebec’s referendum on proposals to break away from Canada.