Duchess hospital not amused by Australian prank call

The Duchess of Cambridge. Picture: AP
The Duchess of Cambridge. Picture: AP
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TWO Australian disc jockeys apologised on Wednesday night for making a hoax telephone call to the private hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge in order to glean information about her medical condition.

But the pair expressed incredulity that they were able to fool staff given their “terrible accents”.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian of 2Day FM

Mel Greig and Michael Christian of 2Day FM

In a highly embarrassing episode for London’s King Edward VII Hospital, a nurse attending to Kate for her acute morning sickness fell for the ruse by the DJs at a Sydney radio station after they impersonated the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

After calling the hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the 2Day FM presenters were put through to the nurse who passed on confidential information about her condition.

The two-minute prank call, described as “foolish” by John Lofthouse, chief executive of King Edward VII, has sparked a review of the hospital’s telephone protocols.

A spokesman for the royal couple declined to comment on the incident.

In the call, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, presenters of the station’s weeknight show The Summer 30 rang the hospital. Greig pretended to be the Queen and asked to be put through to “my granddaughter”.

The presenters were told by the nurse that they could visit Kate after 9am.

After speaking with the duty nurse, Greig said she planned to feed her “little corgis”, while her co-host pretended to bark in the background and imitate Charles shouting “mummy, mummy”.

Mr Lofthouse said: “This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore. We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and we are now reviewing our telephone protocols.”

A spokesman added that the duo were able to hold “a short conversation” with one of the nursing staff and that the hospital “deeply regrets this incident”.

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

Greig and Christian later apologised for the hoax, as did their radio station.

They 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.”

A spokeswoman for the station said: “2Day FM sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by the inquiries to Kate’s hospital. The radio segment was done with lighthearted intentions. We wish Kate and her family all the best and we’re glad to hear she’s doing well.”

St James’s Palace declined to comment about the prank, which is not the first such attempt to hoodwink the royals down the years.

In 1995 Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard, pretending to be Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien, was put through to the Queen. The pair spoke for about 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.

The fall-out over the hoax came as Prince William again visited his wife in the hospital, where she is receiving treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum.

Dressed casually in beige cords and a blue sweater, he arrived at the building at 12:15pm without acknowledging the sizeable media pack which has maintained a presence outside the hospital since news of Kate’s pregnancy broke earlier this week.