An Australian radio station on Thursday boasted of the "biggest royal prank ever", milking the publicity after its presenters got through to a nurse treating Prince William's pregnant wife Kate.
The embarrassing hoax by 2Day FM on Tuesday made worldwide headlines and was condemned by the private King Edward VII's Hospital, which said it took "patient confidentiality extremely seriously". Presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who posed as the Queen and Prince Charles, apologised after an uproar in Britain.
"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," they said in a statement.
"We're very sorry if we've caused any issues and we're glad to hear that Kate is doing well."
But the Sydney radio station was also making the most of the publicity, headlining a story on its website "Biggest Royal Prank Ever!",
despite the hospital saying it was considering legal action. "With some of the worst English accents in the history of radio, the Summer Hot30's MC and Mel managed to convince the staff at Duchess, Kate Middleton's hospital in London that they were the Queen and Prince Charles," it said.
"In a prank that they never even imagined would work, MC and Mel called the private King Edward VII Hospital where Kate is staying, put on their best (yikes!) Queen and Prince Charles accents and were asked to be put through to Kate's room."To MC and Mel's absolute shock they were put straight through to a nurse on Kate's ward." The pair were connected to a nurse treating Kate and given an update on her condition, including that she had not experienced any recent "retching".
In the background of the call, in which the pair affected upper-crust accents, another member of the radio show can be heard barking in an attempt to impersonate one of the Queen's corgis. A spokesman from William and Kate's office at St James's Palace declined to comment.
The hoax at a hospital that has also treated the queen, her husband Prince Philip and Charles' wife Camilla over the years, divided opinion on the broadcaster's website on Thursday. "Good one. We are amused. A bit of harmless fun," said one listener, identified only as Jeff G.
"I reckon HRH Prince Charles would have had a bit of a laugh when he heard it. Pity there's so many sad sacks who can't see the lighter side of a couple of Aussies taking the piss out of the Poms." But others were less amused, saying a line had been crossed.
"There is nothing funny about duping hard-working healthcare professionals or abusing a pregnant woman's right to privacy. Royal or not," said Emily Quiggin.
Julie Mango said: "Your actions have me feel ashamed as an Australian.
"I feel sorry for the staff you involved in your mindless prank, they will obviously be disciplined and could I guess even lose their jobs over this."
Kate is in hospital suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that affects about one in 200 pregnant women. News of her pregnancy this week ended feverish speculation about a new royal heir that began immediately after the couple's lavish wedding in April 2011. The baby will be third in line to the throne.
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