WHEN he died 150 years ago, it threw his wife Queen Victoria, and the entire country, into a deep mourning.

And until recently it had been undisputed that Prince Albert’s unexpected death in December 1861 was due to typhoid fever.

But thanks to a team of experts at the John Radcliffe Hospital and the tireless research of an Oxford historian, the theory is being put to the test for the first time.

Author Helen Rappaport has uncovered details about the death of Prince Albert which suggest he could have actually died from a more modern condition, Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s is a serious inflammatory bowel disease that today affects one in 500 people and can result in death if not treated.

Ms Rappaport, from North Oxford, said: “He was only 42, and the public thought this energetic man was fit and healthy.

“The traumatised Queen refused to allow a post-mortem, so for 150 years the accepted cause of death was typhoid fever.

“I came across an obscure article in a medical journal which suggested that Albert may have suffered from Crohn’s disease.”

Ms Rappaport took the medical evidence to Dr Chris Conlon, consultant in infectious diseases including typhoid, and Dr Simon Travis, consultant in gastroenterology, at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

After the pair examined them in detail, both doctors concluded the evidence for Crohn’s, which thanks to advances in modern medicine is now treatable, looked very strong.

Dr Travis said there were a number of similarities in the symptoms of typhoid fever and Crohn’s disease. They include fever and severe abdominal pain.

Dr Conlon added: “Helen approached myself and Simon and we gave her our views. She’d done quite a lot of digging into the probability of his illness.

“We concluded that it was more likely to be Crohn’s, which could not be treated, and would explain why finally he perished.”

The findings are outlined as part of Ms Rappaport’s new book about the love between Victoria and Albert, Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy.