Britain's Prince Philip to fly to Canada on Friday

LONDON (AFP) - Queen Elizabeth II's 91-year-old husband Prince Philip will fly to Canada this weekend for his first major foreign trip since 2011, royal officials said on Wednesday.

Buckingham Palace said the prince, who has suffered several health scares in recent years, would travel to Toronto on Friday and return to Britain on Sunday.

"The main purpose of his visit is to present new colours to Canada's 3rd Battalion in his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment," a palace spokesman told AFP.

The Duke of Edinburgh, as Philip is formally known, has not taken a long-haul flight since October 2011, when he accompanied the queen on a tour of Australia.

He last left Britain in May last year for a one-day trip to visit British troops in Germany.

The prince has been hospitalised three times in the last 18 months, most recently in August when he spent five nights in a Scottish hospital for a recurrence of a bladder infection.

A month earlier, the infection had forced him to miss some of the diamond jubilee celebrations marking the queen's 60th year on the throne.

The prince also suffered a blocked coronary artery in December 2011 and had to have a surgical procedure to insert a stent.

His 87-year-old wife has generally enjoyed better health, though she was also hospitalised for 24 hours last month when she was struck down with suspected gastroenteritis.

On account of their age, the royal couple stayed in Britain last year while other members of the family toured the world to mark the diamond jubilee.

Both the monarch and her husband appeared in good health when they made their last major public appearance a week ago, at the funeral of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Philip is the longest-serving royal consort in British history, and has been a constant presence at his wife's side since their marriage in 1947.

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