The prince of Hanover, the sometimes rowdy husband of Monaco’s Princess Caroline, is in a “serious” condition in a hospital with an acute pancreas problem, his office at Monaco’s royal palace says.
Prince Ernst August, 51, was taken to intensive care at Monaco’s Princess Grace Hospital on Tuesday, his office said.
It did not make clear whether the prince remained in intensive care yesterday, but said he was “under continuous surveillance”. Palace officials said he remained in hospital.
“His state of health is serious and requires permanent medical care,” the statement said. Tests, X-rays and scans had been carried out to determine the extent of his ”acute pancreatic disorder”, it added.
News of his condition came as Caroline and Monaco were already in mourning for the princess’ father, Prince Rainier, the principality’s long-time ruler who died on Wednesday at 81 after a month-long period in hospital.
Ernst, Caroline’s third husband, is a distant relative of the Queen and great-grandson of the last German emperor, Wilhelm II, and is descended from one of Germany’s oldest noble families.
But he also is renowned as a royal black sheep whose sometimes rowdy, even drunken, behaviour has repeatedly landed him in court and in the newspapers.
In 2000, he apologised to the Turkish public for urinating on the side of Turkey’s pavilion at the Expo 2000 World’s Fair in Germany. Last year, he was convicted and fined for assaulting a hotel owner in Kenya in a drunken rage in June 2000.
German media dubbed him the “Pugilist Prince”.
Doctors did not reveal what type of pancreas problem the prince had.
The two most common are pancreatic cancer and acute pancreatitis, where the pancreas suddenly becomes inflamed.
Pancreatic cancer does not usually come on suddenly, although it can cause acute pancreatitis, said pancreas expert Dr Stephen Bloom of Imperial College in London.
Most cases of acute pancreatitis are caused by alcohol abuse or gall stones. Like cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis is a common affliction of the heavy drinker.
However, in rare cases acute pancreatitis can be caused by injury, prescription drugs, parasites or a virus.
The pancreas is part of the body’s hormone production system. It secretes digestive chemicals and insulin, the hormone that carries energy to the tissues.
Ernst August and Caroline, 48, the eldest child of Rainier and Hollywood star Grace Kelly, wed in January 1999 in Monaco’s royal palace in a civil ceremony. She is Roman Catholic; he is Protestant. It was the third marriage for her and second for him.
Six months later, Caroline gave birth to a daughter, Alexandra. Between them, Caroline and Ernst already had five children from previous marriages.
Ernst was not present at a Mass at Monaco’s cathedral on Tuesday evening in honour of Pope John Paul II, who was buried yesterday.
But the prince was seen on March 25, standing next to Caroline and her brother, Prince Albert, when they made an appearance on a palace balcony as a traditional Good Friday procession went past. Although it was dark, Ernst wore sunglasses.
Rainier’s funeral will be held next Friday. Albert, 47, succeeded his father as the principality’s new ruler.