One member of the British royal family was sadly absent from the birth of his first child – Prince Edward. Back in November 2003, Edward was halfway around the world when his wife the Countess of Wessex went into labour early. The Prince was on an official visit to Mauritius when he was told the news and immediately jumped on a flight, but unfortunately for Edward, he was too late.
Sophie gave birth to their first child Lady Louise Windsor on Saturday 8 November just before midnight. Baby Louise was delivered via an emergency C-section at Frimley Park NHS Hospital in Surrey – the same hospital that Meghan Markle is reportedly considering for her royal baby. A palace statement at the time revealed: "Her Royal Highness and her daughter are both stable. As a purely precautionary measure, the baby was taken to the regional neo natal unit at St George's Hospital, Tooting."
Edward and Sophie leave hospital with their two-week-old daughter Louise
The statement, published on 10 November, continued: "The Earl of Wessex, who was on an official visit to Mauritius, flew home early to be with his wife and daughter. His Royal Highness has now cancelled or postponed planned engagements for the early part of this week, but will represent Her Royal Highness at a reception for the Brainwave charity on Wednesday evening."
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Sophie was thought to have given birth at least three weeks early. Her engagements scheduled for 17 and 18 November were cancelled. The statement concluded: "The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are being kept informed of the progress of both the Countess and her baby, and they are very pleased that they are both doing well. Her Royal Highness and her daughter will remain in hospital for the foreseeable future."
In December 2007, Sophie gave birth to her son James at Frimley Park, again by C-section. The mother-of-two returned to the Surrey hospital in 2014 where she was honoured to open its new neonatal unit. Hospital CEO Andrew Morris gave a speech in which he talked about the vital work the hospital had done in saving babies' lives. The Countess welled up as she listened to Andrew's speech and unveiled a plaque to mark the new neonatal ward.
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"The service you provide is paramount and can literally make the difference between life and death, I can attest to that!" said Sophie, whose life was in danger when she gave birth to Louise. "It is rare to have the opportunity to thank people for the huge difference they have made at an important time in your life so I am so pleased to be here and to be able to say thank you in person." Sophie's children were the first royal youngsters to be born at an NHS hospital.
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