LONDRES (AFP) - Le canular d'une radio australienne, dont une animatrice s'était fait passer pour la reine afin d'obtenir des nouvelles de Kate, hospitalisée à Londres en début de grossesse, a pris un tour tragique vendredi avec l'annonce de la mort de l'infirmière dupée au téléphone.

L'hôpital King Edward VII où Kate, l'épouse du prince William, a été hospitalisée trois nuits alors qu'elle souffrait de nausées sévères, a déploré "la mort tragique de Jacintha Saldanha", une "excellente infirmière" qui travaillait depuis plus de quatre ans pour l'établissement.

Plusieurs médias britanniques ont présenté ce décès comme un possible suicide, une information que n'ont pas voulu commenter la police et l'hôpital.

"Nous pouvons confirmer que Jacintha a été récemment victime d'un canular téléphonique à l'hôpital. L'hôpital l'a soutenue pendant ce moment difficile", a ajouté l'établissement.

Un porte-parole du King Edward VII a précisé à l'AFP que Jacintha Saldanha était l'employée qui a transféré l'appel des présentateurs à l'infirmière du service dans lequel la princesse était hospitalisée.

Deux animateurs de 2Day FM, une radio de Sydney, avaient appelé mardi l'hôpital en se faisant passer pour la reine et le prince Charles.

Selon l'enregistrement de leur conversation entrecoupée de fous rires, diffusé sur internet, on entendait la présentatrice Mel Greig, demander, en vieillissant le timbre de sa voix: "Pourrais-je, s'il vous plaît, parler à Kate, ma petite-fille?".

- "Oui bien sûr, ne quittez pas, Madame", avait alors répondu l'infirmière décédée.

L'appel avait ensuite été mis en attente tandis que Michael Christian, son compère, commentait avec incrédulité à l'antenne: "Ils nous transfèrent? si ça marche, ce sera le canular le plus facile qu'on ait jamais monté!".

Une seconde infirmière avait décroché et répondu à la pseudo "reine" que Kate "dormait et qu'elle avait passé une nuit calme". "On l'a réhydratée car elle était très déshydratée quand elle est arrivée, mais elle est dans un état stable à l'heure qu'il est", avait-elle ajouté.

La police britannique, dans l'attente des résultats des analyses post-mortem, a qualifié le décès de "mort inexpliquée", une formule qui exclut un meurtre mais pas un suicide.

Les services de secours, informés qu'une femme avait été trouvée insconsciente dans un logement proche de l'hôpital ont prononcé le décès sur place.

Le prince William et son épouse ont fait part de "leur profonde tristesse", à l'annonce de ce décès.

"Leurs altesses ont été admirablement soignées par tout le personnel chaque fois qu'elles ont été à l'hôpital King Edward VII", un établissement qui a déjà traité plusieurs membres de la famille royale, a souligné un communiqué publié par leurs services.

"Il est profondément triste de voir qu'une simple erreur humaine due à un cruel canular puisse conduire à la mort d'une infirmière dévouée", a regretté le Docteur Peter Carter, secrétaire général du Royal College of Nursing, l'ordre infirmier britannique.

Les deux présentateurs s'étaient excusés sur Twitter "des désagréments" qu'avait causés ce canular "fait avec les meilleurs intentions" mais la radio s'était ensuite vantée d'avoir réussi le "plus énorme canular royal" de l'histoire.

L'hôpital avait, lui, qualifié cet incident de "déplorable". "Nos infirmiers sont (...) formés pour prendre soin des patients, pas pour gérer ce genre de supercherie journalistique", avait déclaré le directeur de l'établissement, John Lofthouse, n'excluant pas d'engager des poursuites contre la radio.


Kate Middleton enceinte : la vidéo du canular qui trompe une infirmière de l'hôpital et trahit le secret médical par Gentside

Les photos de Kate et William à la sortie de l'hôpital, compilées par nos collèques du HuffPost anglais
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  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stands next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Britain's Prince William stand next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Britain's Prince William stands next to his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge as she leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Prince William and his wife Kate are expecting their first child, and the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to hospital suffering from a severe form of morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. (AP Photo/Andrew Matthews)

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge arrives at the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    General view of step ladders left by photographers outside the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge arrives at the King Edward VII hospital in London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge enters the King Edward VII hospital in London to visit his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Pippa Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Pippa Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Pippa Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    NOTE ALTERNATE CROP: The Duke of Cambridge leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    James Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting his sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Pippa Middleton leaves the King Edward VII hospital in London after visiting her sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaving King Edward VII Hospital in central London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Police officers outside King Edward VII Hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaving King Edward VII Hospital in central London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    A no parking sign outside King Edward VII Hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is being treated for acute morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    A well wisher outside the King Edward VII hospital in London, where The Duchess of Cambridge spent the night with severe morning sickness as the nation celebrates the news that she is pregnant.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaving King Edward VII Hospital in central London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The Duke of Cambridge leaving King Edward VII Hospital in central London after visiting his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who has been admitted with a severe form of morning sickness.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    Prince William leaves the King Edward VII hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted following the announcement that she is expecting a baby.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    A general view of King Edward VII Hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted following the announcement that she is expecting a baby.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    A general view of King Edward VII Hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted following the announcement that she is expecting a baby.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The waiting media outside King Edward VII Hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted following the announcement that she is expecting a baby.

  • Duchess of Cambridge expecting

    The waiting media outside King Edward VII Hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted following the announcement that she is expecting a baby.