His wife of 65 years carried on with her official engagements, visiting the BBC just half a mile from the hospital where Philip’s operation will take place.
Philip, who turns 92 next week, was admitted to the London Clinic on Thursday and is expected to remain for two weeks after what Buckingham Palace described as “an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations”.
Royal aides said the surgery would be done on Friday.
It would be the fourth time Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, would undergo hospital treatment since Christmas 2011.
Philip was admitted to hospital during the queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year with a bladder infection, putting a dampener on celebrations to mark the milestone.
The 87-year-old queen visited the BBC’s newly opened headquarters alone on Friday. She left without making public reference to Philip’s hospital stay.
Philip was taken to the London Clinic by appointment after attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth.
Television footage showed him in a grey top hat and tails, smiling and chatting with guests.
Married in 1947, Philip – the son of the exiled Prince Andrew of Greece – has proved a steadfast albeit sometimes controversial consort to the Queen, renowned in Britain for his outspoken comments and off-the-cuff remarks.
“I think he has done a fantastic job supporting the queen,” said Margaret Stead, 66, near the clinic.
“He’s in the best hands at the London Clinic.”
Against a backdrop of trumpets and cheering crowds, the queen and Philip were recently joined by 2,000 guests at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday to celebrate 60 years since her coronation.
“My best wishes to the Duke of Edinburgh who is in hospital,” Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter on Thursday evening. “I hope he has a swift recovery.”