The Countess of Wessex has recalled her daughter Lady Louise's premature birth in an emotional speech made during her visit to India, where she has been able to see the impact of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust's initiative to prevent premature babies from going blind.
Speaking at the Vision Catalyst Fund Reception in New Delhi, India, and making reference to a film highlighting the fight to tackle blindness in premature babies, the mother-of-two said: "This is the third time I have seen this film A Life with Sight and each time I see it it makes me cry.
"My daughter, Louise, was born prematurely and so every time I see anything to do with premature babies it takes me back to those early days, the shock of her early arrival, and then the realisation that she had a sight issue, which we would have to manage," she told guests.
It is understood that Lady Louise underwent an operation to correct her squint back in 2013. Buckingham Palace never confirmed it, but royal watchers noticed the difference in Louise's appearance when she accompanied her parents for a day's racing at Royal Ascot in December 2013. Likewise, well-wishers who greeted the royal family outside Sandringham's St Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas morning noted the change.
Two years later, Sophie opened up about her daughter's condition whilst marking World Sight Day. The Countess explained that her daughter used to suffer from strabismus, a condition whereby a person cannot align both eyes simultaneously, but that Louise has perfect sight now.
Lady Louise in 2011 and 2013, after the procedure
"Premature babies can often have squints because the eyes are the last thing in the baby package to really be finalised," she said.
"Her squint was quite profound when she was tiny and it takes time to correct it. You've got to make sure one eye doesn't become more dominant than the other but she's fine now – her eyesight is perfect."
Sophie and Edward with their daughter Louise
Lady Louise was born four weeks prematurely in an emergency caesarean operation during which Sophie came close to death after she lost nine pints of blood through internal bleeding.
Lady Louise, weighing 4lb 9oz, had to be transferred almost immediately for specialist care at St George's Hospital, in Tooting, South London, while Sophie had to remain 35 miles away in Frimley Hospital, Surrey, for another 16 days.