The nurse who put through a prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital ward on Tuesday morning has died of a suspected suicide, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The woman, Jacintha Saldanha, was found unconscious this morning just yards from the King Edward VII’s Hospital Sister Agnes in central London, where the Duchess spent three days being treated for acute morning sickness. A call to an ambulance was placed at 9:35 am, but the married mother of two died on the scene despite paramedics’ attempts to revive her.
The hospital confirmed that Saldanha was the “victim of a hoax call to the hospital” placed by two Australian DJ s posing as the Queen and her son Prince Charles. Saldanha, a nurse who was manning the reception desk at 5:30am, put the call straight through to the Duchess of Cambridge’s private nurse, who openly discussed the Duchess’ condition. A recording of the call by Sydney presenters Mel Grieg and Michael Christian was later broadcast on the radio program 2Day FM. The recording, which quickly went viral online, was a major embarrassment for the hospital, which has treated many members of the royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released a statement on Friday afternoon saying they were “deeply saddened” by the news of Saldanha’s death: “Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.” A palace spokesperson told the BBC that no complaints had been lodged about the prank with the hospital.
A hospital spokesman said Saldanha had worked at the hospital for over four years, and had not been reprimanded for the incident. “She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues.”
The DJs behind the prank apologized for it on Wednesday, saying, “We were very surprised that our call was put through, we thought we’d be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents. We’re very sorry if we’ve caused any issues and we’re glad to hear that Kate is doing well.”
They continued to promote the stunt, however, with a Tweet posted by Michael Christian on Friday reading: “If you’d said to me “MC this week wll finish with you making international headlines”, I would have punched you in the face. #RoyalPrank” That Tweet now appears to have been deleted, as has Mel Grieg’s Twitter account. The website for 2Day FM appears to be down. Meanwhile, Twitter has exploded with outrage directed at the radio hosts, reports Hollywood Life.
The Duchess of Cambridge, who is not yet 12 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the hospital on Monday for treatment of severe morning sickness and was discharged on Thursday morning. The hoax call occurred early on Tuesday morning. Saldanha answered the call, saying: “Hello, good morning, King Edward VII Hospital.” Grieg, posing as the Queen, said: “Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter.” Saldanha replied, “Oh yes, just hold on ma’am,” and transferred the call.
In a statement today, Scotland Yard said:
“Police were called at approximately 9:25am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious at an address in Weymouth Street, W1. The London Ambulance service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident…The death is being treated as unexplained.”