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The death of Albert Prince Consort: the case against typhoid fever

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/ 837-841 First published online: 1 December 1993


The case against typhoid fever as the cause of the Prince's death rests partly on some uncharacteristic clinical features during the terminal 22 days of his illness, and partly on other aspects of his temperament and emotionally threatening life events, which tend to favour ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. That he had been intermittently unwell with abdominal symptoms for several months before the terminal stage of his illness, only 9 days after this sensitive and vulnerable man was confronted by an intensely personal insult, lends further support to a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. His many admirable qualities unfortunately did not include those needed to surmount deeply injured feelings at his son's behaviour, notably flexibility, sufficient sense of humour and tolerance of human frailty. Had he been able to swear or laugh at his son's foolishness, it might have saved him, and so might adequate psychological management. Some patients with fulminating inflammatory bowel disease, if that is what the Prince had, decline such help, preferring to brood rather than speak, and take their bottledup feelings of resentment to the grave.

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