London Police: Nurse in Royal Prank Found Hanged

Posted December 13th, 2012 at 5:10 pm (UTC-5)
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A London police officer has testified the nurse at a hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife earlier this month was found hanged in her room three days after being duped by a hoax from an Australian radio station.

The officer told the Westminster Coroner's Court Thursday that nurse Jacintha Saldanha also left three notes before colleagues found her last week hanging by a scarf from a wardrobe in a nurses' quarters. The Indian-born mother of two also had wrist injuries, and police are treating the case as a suicide.

Police are studying the notes, interviewing family and friends of the 46-year-old nurse and reviewing her recent phone calls and emails in hopes of learning more about what led to her death.

Two Australian radio announcers called the hospital December 4 pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and her son, Prince Charles, seeking medical information about the condition of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. Saldanha transferred the prank call to another nurse who disclosed confidential details of the duchess's condition as she recovered from morning sickness. The prank quickly made worldwide headlines.

Saldanha's death sparked a firestorm of international criticism, with a statement of condolence from the Royal family. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the death a “complete tragedy.”

Nurses in southern India's Karnataka state, Saldanha's birthplace, held a candlelight memorial vigil Thursday honoring their colleague, with participants lamenting both the prank and the nurse's death.

“It's very unfortunate for a nurse who was in the peak of her career had to die in a very bad way from the Royal prank played by some very foolish people.”

For its part, the Australian station has suspended the two announcers indefinitely, and the government has launched a probe of the station's conduct.