Prince Philip Leaves Hospital After Emergency Surgery

12/27/2011 at 06:20 AM EST

Prince Philip Leaves Hospital
Prince Philip leaves the hospital in a chauffeur-driven Range rover
Chris Radburn/PA/Landov
The royal family welcomed Prince Philip home early Tuesday after he spent four nights in the hospital for a heart ailment.

Philip, 90, smiled and waved to bystanders as he was driven out of Papworth Hospital in Cambridge to begin the hour-long car journey to Sandringham House in Norfolk, England.

He apparently walked down from his ward, rather than take an elevator. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said, "On departure, Prince Philip thanked the staff at Papworth for the excellent care he has received during his stay. He is very much looking forward to rejoining his family."

Queen Elizabeth's husband complained of suffering chest pains on Dec. 23 and was airlifted to the hospital, where it was determined he required emergency surgery to insert a coronary stent and relieve a blocked artery.

He missed a three full days of holiday celebrations, including the Christmas Eve gift-giving and dinner, the church service and family lunch on Christmas Day, and the annual pheasant hunt on Monday.

Not that his hospital stay was totally without some Christmas cheer. Over the holiday weekend he was visited by the Queen, as well as by Prince William, Prince Harry and four other grandchildren.

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