17 DECEMBER 2007

As the royal family unwrap their Christmas presents at Sandringham on December 25 there will be one member absent from the traditional family celebrations. Sophie, Countess of Wessex is scheduled to be recuperating from the birth of her second child, after having the baby delivered by caesarean section this Friday.

The 42-year-old royal is due to undergo the procedure at her local hospital in Surrey, Frimley Park, where she will stay until Christmas Eve, reports the Daily Mail. She will then spend the following week with Prince Edward and their four-year-old daughter Louise at their Bagshot Park residence.

Sophie, who is credited with providing fun and female company for the Queen at Christmas, will be particularly missed by her mother-in-law during the festive celebrations. "The Queen is enormously fond of Sophie and has relied on her to jolly things along at Sandringham," says a royal source. "But she may travel from Sandringham to Bagshot to see Sophie after Boxing Day."

Photo: ©
The 42-year-old royal is reported to be having her second baby delivered by caesarean section this Friday at Frimley Park, the hospital where her four-year-old daughter Louise was born four weeks early in an emergency caesarean Photo: © RexClick on photo to enlarge