Kate Middleton, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Did a royal prank lead to tragedy?

The nurse who unwittingly transferred a prank call from Australian radio hosts impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles has been found dead. She has been identified as Jacintha Saldanha.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," read a statement from a St. James's Palace spokesman. "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."

A U.K. Metropolitan Police spokeswoman tells E! News that police were called at approximately 9:35 a.m. (GMT) on Friday to a report of a woman found unconscious at an address in central London. London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries continue to establish the circumstances of the incident. Police would not confirm if the death is being ruled a suicide or not.

"It is with very deep sadness we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha," read a statement from a King Edward VII spokesperson. "Jacintha was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues. We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time."

On Tuesday, Saldanha received the prank call from Mel Greig and Michael Christian, on-air personalities from Australian radio station 2Day, and subsequently transferred the call to another nurse who provided an update on the Duchess of Cambridge, who at the time was being treated at King Edward VII Hospital for hyperemesis gravidarum, an acute form of morning sickness.

The radio station later issued an apology after the prank, stating, "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 for Kate or the nurse. It was honestly meant as fun and hope the nurse and Kate are OK."

The duchess was admitted to the hospital Monday and was discharged on Thursday with Prince William by her side.

 (Originally published on Dec. 7, 2012 at 8:24 a.m. PT)

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share