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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 15:39 GMT
Queen leaves hospital after surgery
The Queen leaving hospital
The Queen will rest at Sandringham
The Queen has left hospital after a minor operation to remove torn cartilage from her knee.

Walking with a stick, she clutched at a rail to steady her steps as she made her way down the stairs at the front of King Edward VII hospital in London on Tuesday.

She wore a grey trouser suit, hiding the bandaging on her right knee.

In surgery lasting 45 minutes on Monday, doctors removed the torn cartilage after giving the Queen a general anaesthetic.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the operation went very well.

Queen leaves hospital
The Queen used a stick to negotiate the steps
She is expected to be "fully active again within a few weeks", said the spokeswoman.

"Her Majesty will rest at Sandringham over the next two weeks and will then resume a limited programme of engagements," said a Palace spokeswoman.

The Queen, 76, was admitted on Sunday evening.

She injured her knee on the Friday before Christmas when walking on uneven ground during a private visit to Newmarket.

The operation follows a scan on the troublesome knee last week at King's Lynn Hospital, near the Queen's Norfolk estate.

The surgery was performed by the Queen's orthopaedic surgeon Roger Vickers, with her physician Richard Thompson in attendance.

Members of the Royal Family were kept informed of her progress throughout.

The Queen horse-riding
The Queen's previous injury was sustained riding
BBC royal correspondent June Kelly said: "The Queen has always enjoyed very good health.

"We know that she had this accident before Christmas and was walking with a stick at times over the Christmas holiday."

Buckingham Palace said it was not yet clear whether the Queen's engagements would have to be amended as a result of the operation.

Her first scheduled official engagement is on 29 January, when she is due to be presented with commemorative Jubilee Gates by members of the Armed Forces at Sandringham House.

Wisdom tooth

The Queen has rarely been forced to cancel engagements due to ill-health.

In January 1994, the Queen wore a plaster cast after breaking her left wrist when falling off her horse on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

But she was not required to remain in hospital on that occasion.

It is thought she was last admitted in July 1982 when she had a wisdom tooth extracted at the King Edward VII.

Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, recently dismissed reports he had suffered a head injury.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The queen will have to rest for a while"
See also:

13 Jan 03 | C-D
13 Jan 03 | UK
25 Dec 02 | UK
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