Royal Prank Call Receptionist Commits Suicide

A receptionist at the private hospital which treated the Duchess of Cambridge has died in a suspected suicide – two days after being duped by an amateurish hoax from an Australian radio station.

The woman’s unconscious body was found at an address yards away from King Edward VII Hospital, where she worked, just before 9.30am today.

The emergency services were called and two ambulances were despatched to the central London residence.

Patrol: Police officers walk outside King Edward VII hospital, on the day a receptionist there duped by Australian DJs died in a suspected suicide

Tragedy: The receptionist was found unconscious and later died after handling a prank call by Australian radio DJs concerning the condition of Kate Middleton as she was treated for extreme morning sickness

But paramedics were unable to revive her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her family, husband and two children have been informed.

The woman, who answered the hoax call, was a hospital nurse who was working as a receptionist at the time of the prank.

Officers from Scotland Yard launched an investigation yesterday and are treating the death as ‘unexplained’.

The exact cause of death remained unclear. However, one source indicated that the woman appeared to have killed herself.

Two days earlier the receptionist took a phone call from giggling DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

The Australian station and presenters advertised the stunt worldwide and today Christian was continuing to boast about the prank 'making international headlines' on Twitter.

Even today Christian was urging people to tune in to hear more about #royalprank.

Distraught: Nurses at the hospital head inside while clinging to eachother after hearing the news

Friend: The receptionist who has died was a trained nurse helping answer the phones on the day of the hoax

Presenters: Mel Greig (left) and Michael Christian (right) made the call about the Duchess

Still boasting: DJ Michael Christian's Twitter feed today

In the call at 5.30am on Tuesday impersonating the Queen, Miss Greig said: ‘Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?’

Thinking she was speaking to the Queen, the receptionist replied: ‘Oh yes, just hold on ma’am’.

She then put the presenters through to one of the nurses who was caring for the Duchess.

The nurse also believed she was speaking to the Queen and went on to make a number of deeply personal observations about Kate’s health.

Third visit: Prince William (centre) arrives at the King Edward VII Hospital to visit his wife the Duchess of Cambridge in central London on Tuesday, as news was developing of the extraordinary call

A recording of the entire conversation was played on the Sydney-based radio station 2Day.

It says it employs only the ‘highest calibre of nursing staff’ who cover 58 en-suite rooms over three wards.

Previous royal patients include Prince Philip who was treated for a bladder infection in June and was visited by various members of the royal family including his wife, the Queen.

It appears to be a blip in what is otherwise an almost faultless record. The hospital are consistently ranked as one of the best hospitals in the UK based on patient satisfaction.

In their latest survey from April to June 2012, 99.3 per cent of patient’s said they were happy with how their privacy was maintained.

According to their Patient's Charter: 'Patients can expect the Hospital to respect privacy, dignity and religious and cultural beliefs at all times and in all areas.'

A radio station spokesman later apologised for the 'inconvenience' caused by the call.

He said yesterday: '2Day FM sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by the enquiry to Kate’s hospital. The radio segment was done with the best intentions and we wish Kate and her family all the best.'

The station is owned by Southern Cross Austereo, an Australian media group formed in a merger last year that has a collection of TV and radio brands, and claims to be able to connect with 95 per cent of Australians every week.

The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast in Sydney.

Hospital boss John Lofthouse confirmed his staff had passed on information about Kate, saying: 'This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore.'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said yesterday: ‘Police were called at approximately 9.25am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious an address in Weymouth Street, W1.

‘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 not being treated as suspicious at this stage’.

MailOnline did not publish details of the tragedy until the hospital confirmed the woman's family had been contacted.

Today the Duchess of Cambridge was resting at the London home she shares with Prince William after her release from hospital yesterday morning, where she had been recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum.

She was forced to cancel a string of engagements because of her acute morning sickness.

Kate, who was admitted to hospital on Monday, returned to Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace and cancelled upcoming engagements after doctors told her to rest.

And she may have to recuperate without Prince William by her side, as he may be returning to duty with his Search and Rescue squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey, it has been reported.

She missed a planned fund-raising engagement in the City of London on Wednesday because she was confined to hospital.

William and the Duchess of Cambridge had been hoping to keep the news they were expecting a baby to themselves until Christmas Day.

But with Kate admitted to hospital with acute morning sickness, they had little choice but to make the announcement.

They delighted millions around the world – including their own families – with the happy news.

But as the word spread, the parents-to-be were together in hospital, facing the first hurdle in a much longed for pregnancy.

Kate, 30, who is barely eight weeks pregnant, was taken to the hospital just after Sunday lunch by her husband and immediately put on a drip to stop her becoming dehydrated.

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By Erin B 12/07/2012 02:16:00