Confidential details about the Duchess of Cambridge’s health have been revealed by a nurse who fell victim to a hoax call.
Two Australian radio DJs impersonated the Queen and Prince of Wales to dupe staff into giving a condition update on Kate, who is suffering severe morning sickness.
John Lofthouse, chief executive of the private Edward VII Hospital, said he regretted the breach, but condemned the call as “journalistic trickery”.
The presenters, from 2Day FM, remarked during their show how their efforts were the “easiest prank call ever made”, as they put on mock British accents they later described as “terrible”.
Mr Lofthouse said: “I think this whole thing is pretty deplorable, our nurses are caring, professional people trained to look after patients, not to cope with journalistic trickery of this sort.”
He said there was no chance the Duchess could have received the call, adding: “Technically I think this was a breach of patient confidentiality, which I very much regret. Having said that, the information which was inadvertently revealed is already in the public domain.”
William visited his wife for almost five hours today and is likely to be angered by the intrusion into Kate’s health, despite the call having a humorous rather than sinister motive.
The 2Day FM presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, later apologised for their actions as did their radio station.
They made their call around 5.30am yesterday and were put through to a nurse on duty caring for the Duchess who told them: “She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night and sleep is good for her.
“She’s been given some fluids to rehydrate her because she was quite dehydrated when she came in but she’s stable at the moment.”
The nurse added: “She hasn’t had any retching with me since I’ve been on duty and she has been sleeping on and off. I think it’s difficult sleeping in a strange bed as well.”
The prank call will be deeply embarrassing for the Edward VII Hospital in central London, which is the medical institution of choice for the Royal Family.
Mr Lofthouse said they were considering whether to take any action against the radio station.
He added: “I’ve received advice that what the Australian broadcasters did may well have broken the law. On the other hand they’ve apologised for it so we’re going to have a long and careful think about what, if anything, we do.”
The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast to listeners in Sydney.
In their apology the two presenters said: “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.”
The royals have been the target of hoax callers before.
In 1995 Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard, pretending to be Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, was put through to the Queen.
The pair spoke for around 15 minutes and he even managed to elicit a promise that she would try to influence Quebec’s referendum on proposals to break away from Canada.
Journalist Brett Mason, the Europe correspondent for Network 10 Australia, said the reaction to the story in Australia was one of shock.
He said: “It’s quite extraordinary that two particularly bad royal family impersonators with distinctly Australian accents have been put through.
“I think we’re probably having a bit more of a chuckle than our British comrades, who are still trying to see the funny side.”
During the day the Earl of Wessex gave the Royal Family’s first public words of support for William and Kate.
Speaking as he attended a charity fundraising event in the City of London, Edward said: “We’re thrilled by the news but also deep, deep sympathy with Catherine because we know someone who suffered exactly the same, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone at all.”
The Duchess was visited by her younger siblings Pippa and James Middleton who spent just over an hour with their sister.
It was also reported that her parents Carole and Michael Middleton saw their daughter yesterday but were unseen as they used a rear entrance.
Kate was admitted to hospital on Monday after developing severe morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
The condition can leave patients feeling tired, dizzy and suffering from headaches – all signs of dehydration.
But it now appears she is responding to treatment and is likely to be having less severe bouts of vomiting.
The Queen’s former gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, who delivered the Countess of Wessex’s two children, is treating her, according to reports.
The prolonged vomiting could continue for much of her pregnancy – which is still below 12 weeks – and she may need to take anti-sickness medication for months to come.
St James’s Palace said there was “no further update” to the statement they released last night which said the Duchess “is continuing to feel better”.
It also declined to comment about the prank call.