Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate have said they are “deeply saddened” at the death of a nurse who took a prank call at the London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness.
Jacintha Saldanha, a mother of two, was found dead in a flat near the King Edward VII Hospital in London yesterday after reportedly taking her own life.
She had been the victim of two Australian radio DJs who impersonated Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales to obtain information on the duchess’s condition.
In a statement, St James’s Palace said: “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.”
The DJs made their call at around 5.30am on Tuesday and were put through to Ms Saldanha, 46, who passed the call on to a ward nurse.
The nurse told them: “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.
“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 was deeply embarrassing for the hospital, which is the medical institution of choice for the British royal family.
The two presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian from 2Day FM, remarked during their show how it was the “easiest prank call ever made”. The presenters later apologised and have now been suspended.
Both DJs deleted their Twitter accounts after a flood of messages criticising them after news of the nurse’s death became public.
The Sydney radio station has frequently attracted controversy. In 2009, presenter Kyle Sandilands sparked a public backlash following a lie-detector stunt in which a 14-year-old girl revealed she had been raped.
Britain’s 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 Queen Elizabeth. They spoke for 15 minutes and he elicited a promise that she would try to influence Quebec’s referendum on proposals to break away from Canada.
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