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Queen’s Mom Undergoes Hip Surgery

January 26, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Well-wishers brought bouquets and waited outside the hospital Monday where Queen Elizabeth II’s widely loved 97-year-old mother underwent hip replacement surgery after a fall.

With the Queen Mother Elizabeth allowed no visitors for now, the queen remained at Sandringham, the royal estate in eastern England where her mother stumbled and fell Sunday while viewing horses.

The operation, performed Sunday night with six doctors in attendance, was a success, Buckingham Palace said, adding, ``Her Majesty passed a comfortable night.″

The popularity of the Queen Mother, or the ``queen mum″ as she is affectionately known in Britain, has never sagged throughout the troubled private lives of the younger royals.

She had her right hip replaced in 1995 and apparently recovered well.

Doctors at the King Edward VII hospital in London decided to operate immediately on her broken hip, apparently spurred by the need to get elderly patients on their feet again to avoid blood-clotting and bedsores.

The Queen Mother, the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, is the daughter of a Scottish earl. Her shy, stammering husband, King George VI, was catapulted to the throne in 1936 when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry a twice-divorced American.

She earned huge public affection during World War II by staying in heavily bombed London with her husband and two daughters and visiting the capital’s shattered East End.

``People have got different opinions of royalty nowadays,″ said Terry Hutt, 62, a retired carpenter who arrived at the hospital with flowers. ``But I can remember the best of royalty during the war, when the queen and king would come and see us in London when we got bombed out. She is a lovely person.″

But younger Britons also took time to send the Queen Mother good wishes.

``I sent her a card saying I hope she gets well, and telling her that I know how she might be feeling because my grandmother has the same problem,″ said Nazia Chishty, 14, who delivered a single rose to the hospital.

The queen, her husband, Prince Philip, and her sister, Princess Margaret, were all at Sandringham when the Queen Mother fell. Some racehorses being bred there belong to her.

The Queen Mother is noted for her determination to live a full life, and commentators said that, despite her age, she may recover well. She was expected to remain in the hospital for several weeks.

She is frail and sometimes uses a golf cart, but still appears in relatively good health and regularly undertakes public engagements.

She walked into Westminster Abbey unaided at Princess Diana’s funeral in September and had walked from church with other members of the family earlier Sunday.

The Queen Mother’s last public appearance was at Sandringham on Christmas Day, when she joined other members of the royal family for a church service.