Britain's Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II privately celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary yesterday without family at a secluded country home where they have spent many past anniversaries.

Buckingham Palace said hundreds of well-wishers sent flowers and cards but a spokesman for the royals refused to release any additional information.

Although it was known that Prince Philip gave his wife flowers for their ruby anniversary, London's Guardian newspaper speculated that the prince would not likely give his wife the actual gem. "She has one rather large example already, once the property of the Black Prince (Edward Plantagenet, eldest son of King Edward III), and now mounted, uncut, in the Imperial State Crown. No husband likes to be that outclassed," the paper said.

Betty Ford's Surgery

Former first lady Betty Ford, who battled cancer during her husband's term as president and later overcame drug and alcohol addiction, underwent open-heart surgery yesterday to clear four clogged arteries.

The operation was performed at Eisenhower Medical Center, home of the Betty Ford Clinic, by heart specialist Jack Sternlieb and a team of nine other physicians, Ford spokeswoman Ann Cullen said. "Sternlieb has indicated that all aspects of the operation went extremely well," Cullen said. "The prognosis is excellent."

"Mrs. Ford is groggy" and under sedation following the surgery, but "we expect her up and eating breakfast tomorrow," Cullen said.

Ford, 69, is expected to remain in the cardiac unit of the hospital until Monday, and should be released Wednesday, "in time to be home with her family to celebrate Thanksgiving," Cullen said.

Former president Gerald Ford stopped by his wife's hospital room after the surgery, and was "elated" that all went well, Cullen said. Two of the couple's four children -- Steven and Susan -- were at the family home in Rancho Mirage. Jack Ford was expected to arrive late last night, and a third son, Michael, was unable to make it to California.

The Reagan Thanksgiving

President Reagan and his wife Nancy will celebrate Thanksgiving this year back at their California ranch.

Elaine Crispen, the first lady's press secretary, said Nancy Reagan will fly back to the ranch Monday, a day ahead of the president, "to pamper herself" a bit and prepare for the family get-together.

Attending Thursday night's feast will be the president's son Michael, his wife Colleen and their two children, Cameron and Ashley Marie. Maureen Reagan and her husband Dennis Revell are also expected.

Crispen said that although the Reagans' son Ron and his wife Doria will not be at the dinner, they will follow the day after Thanksgiving for a visit. Crispen said the first family did not know what the Reagans' other daughter, Patti Davis, would be doing on Thanksgiving Day.

Ringo's Ex-Wife

Former Beatle Ringo Starr's ex-wife has been ordered to pay legal costs of $354,000 after unsuccessfully suing her lawyer over the size of her 1975 divorce settlement.

Maureen Starkey said she could not live "in the manner to which she had become accustomed" on the award -- a lump sum of $221,000 plus $123,900 a year.

A High Court judge on Thursday rejected Starkey's claim that lawyer Charles Doughty had been negligent in negotiating the settlement and said she "could spend, and enjoyed it, but she could not budget."

Starkey married Starr in 1965 when the Beatles were the world's top pop group. She was then an 18-year-old hairdresser in Liverpool.

When the couple lived in John Lennon's former mansion near London, they had a staff of four. "Ringo was, and no doubt is, a generous man," the judge said, and ordered Maureen Starkey to pay costs of the action.