The 90-year-old Duke of Edinburgh was admitted in Papworth hospital on Friday after complaining of chest pains while he was with the royal family at Sandringham

Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip has left hospital, four days after being rushed in for heart surgery and missing the royal family's Christmas celebrations.

The outspoken 90-year-old prince smiled and waved as he was driven away in a dark Range Rover vehicle from Papworth hospital near Cambridge, eastern England.

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip would return to the royal Sandringham estate in Norfolk. "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was discharged from Papworth Hospital this morning. He is very much looking forward to rejoining his family and is returning to Sandringham by car," the palace said in a statement, referring to Philip by his official title.

On departure, Prince Philip thanked the staff at Papworth for the excellent care he has received during his stay.

 The health scare was the most serious yet for the longest serving royal consort in British history, who has remained active despite his age.

Philip was airlifted from Sandringham to Papworth hospital after complaining of chest pains.

He underwent an operation to unblock a coronary artery using a stent, a mesh sleeve fitted over a sausage-shaped balloon, which is inserted into the artery and then inflated.

The stent remains fixed in position inside the body when the balloon is removed and opens up the artery to remove the blockage.

The prince was given a festive boost on Sunday with a Christmas Day visit from grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry and four others of his eight grandchildren.

The Queen visited her husband of 64 years at the hospital on Sunday after the royal family's Christmas church service.

William's wife, Catherine, appeared at the church service for the first time following their wedding in April, but she did not visit the hospital.

Prince Harry, William's younger brother, drove to the hospital in a separate car which also carried Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of the queen's second youngest son Prince Andrew.

Philip has told doctors he felt 'fine' and didn't want to 'make a fuss', adding, "I just want to go home," according to reports.

The Greek-born Philip is has become a national institution - almost as much for his often off-colour remarks as for his support of the Queen.

He announced on his 90th birthday this year that he was reducing his public engagements after years of touring the globe several footsteps behind the British monarch.