The iconic Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has passed away in hospital at the age of 60, just a few days after suffering a serious heart attack aboard a United Airlines flight last week.

On Tuesday morning (December 27th), her family’s spokesman, Simon Halls, released a statement on behalf of Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd which confirmed the sad news.

Carrie FisherCarrie Fisher pictured at LAX in October 2016

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” the statement read. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher portrayed Princess Leia in the legendary Star Wars franchise in its initial run of three movies in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, reprising the character again in 2015’s long-awaited The Force Awakens.

She was taken to hospital four days ago on December 23rd after she fell ill while flying back to Los Angeles from London, where she had been filming the third series of the acclaimed British comedy series ‘Catastrophe’. Concerned passengers cared for Fisher after she began suffering heart problems about 15 minutes before landing.

According to TMZ’s report of the incident, flight attendants asked whether anybody with medical training was aboard the flight. An EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) rushed from the back of the plane to first class to administer help, during which Fisher was said to have stopped breathing.

Carrie Fisher Billie LourdCarrie Fisher with her daughter Billie Lourd at the premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

She was rushed to hospital by paramedics upon landing, where her condition was initially reported to have improved before it was confirmed that she had been transferred from the emergency room to an intensive care unit.

As well as what was undeniably her most famous role, Fisher had starred in The Blues Brothers, Hannah and her Sisters and When Harry Met Sally. She had made her film debut in the 1975 comedy rom-com Shampoo alongside Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn.

She also wrote four novels and three memoirs – the last of which, ‘The Princess Diarist’, was published in 2016 and unveiled details of a long-rumoured affair between her and fellow Star Wars actor Harrison Ford.

More: Carrie Fisher confirms 40 year old rumours of an affair with Harrison Ford