Duke and Duchess of Cambridge say they are “deeply saddened” by the tragedy
3:56PM EST December 7. 2012 – London’s King Edward VII Hospital confirms that a nurse involved in the Kate Middleton hoax call incident has died.
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead this morning near the hospital, where a pregnant Middleton was being treated for severe morning sickness this week.
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha,” the royal couple said in a statement. “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.”
Saldanha’s family and colleagues also expressed their grief at her death, which is suspected to be a suicide, although a coroner’s report is pending.
“We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha,” the married mother of two’s family said in a statement. “We would ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time.”
John Lofthouse, King Edward VII’s chief executive, also released a statement: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much loved and valued colleague.”
The Daily Mail first reported that Saldanha, a nurse who was answering calls this week when she was tricked via a prank call into connecting the hoaxers to Middleton’s nurse, died in a suspected suicide. Saldanha had worked at the hospital for more than four years and transferred the call to the duchess’ caregiver early Tuesday morning.
Earlier this week, Australian radio DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig of 2Day FM called the hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, convincing Saldanha to transfer the call to Middleton’s private nurse who then commented on Middleton’s condition, a violation of patient confidentiality.
2Day FM and Southern Cross Austereo, which distributes the show, released their own statement on Facebook responding to the tragedy and revealing that Christian and Greig would be leaving the show “until further notice.”
When asked if the duke and duchess had expressed concern about the staff after the prank call, a St. James Palace spokesman added, “On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.”
Scotland Yard officials confirmed that a young woman was found unconscious this morning near the hospital and was later pronounced dead. No official cause of death has been revealed yet and the police are calling it unexplained, but the Mail reports that a source is calling it a suicide. The Mail also reports that Saldanha was staying at the nurses’ accomodations around corner from hospital; her family, including her children, live in Bristol.
A Scotland Yard spokesperson told the Mail, “Police were called at approximately 9.25 am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious (at) 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.”
Since news broke of Saldanha’s death, Christian and Greig have both deleted their Twitter accounts after tweeting about the success of the prank throughout the week.
The Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized while dealing with a severe case of morning sickness and was released on Thursday. Middleton and Prince William announced Monday that they’re expecting their first child.