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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 November, 2003, 13:14 GMT
Royal baby girl leaves hospital
Prince Edward and his wife Sophie's new child
Onlookers got just a glimpse of the baby
The baby of Prince Edward and his wife Sophie has left hospital, a fortnight after her premature birth.

The girl, not yet named publicly, was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and has been cared for at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.

The earl and countess came back to the hospital together on Sunday to finally take their daughter home.

As the family posed for press photographs before leaving, Sophie said: "It is the best day ever."

Asked what their plans were, she said: "Just to be a family."

As they left, the couple thanked hospital staff, while patients looked on.

She looks like him [Prince Edward]
Sophie Wessex

Sophie showed the baby to Molly Sheppey, the nurse who presented the countess with flowers when she was herself discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. Ms Sheppey told the couple: "She is beautiful."

The proud parents were cheered by staff and patients as they walked through the hospital foyer and out into the rain.

Special care

Edward emerged from the hospital at about 1115 GMT with his daughter in his arms and his wife by his side.

The couple declined to answer reporters' questions about what the baby would be called.

But Sophie said: "She looks like him," and pointed to her husband when asked who their daughter looked more like.

When asked if he would be changing the baby's nappies, Edward just quipped: "Not now."

He then strapped his baby into a carry cot in the back of the couple's dark blue Rover 75, and they drove off to their nearby Bagshot Park home.

They are both completely besotted... no baby was wanted more than this
Buckingham Palace

Sophie first arrived at the hospital by ambulance on 8 November after suffering cramps at home.

Four weeks premature and 4lbs 9oz (2 kg) when she was born, the baby was taken initially to the neo-natal unit of St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, for special care.

She was moved back to Frimley Park Hospital on 13 November, from where Sophie was discharged on Wednesday.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said on Sunday the couple were looking forward to being a family together at last.

"They are just very, very excited about bringing her home. They can hardly wait," she said.

"They are both completely besotted. No baby was wanted more than this."

It was "absolutely wonderful" and "touching to see them with her", the spokeswoman said, adding the little girl was "going to be a very doted-upon baby".

Edward was already a very hands-on father "getting stuck in with everything," she said.

Ambulance mix-up

Prince Edward missed the birth as he was on a state visit to Mauritius but flew home immediately to be with his wife and daughter when they were reunited. He described it as "quite an emotional moment".

Police procedures came under the spotlight after the birth when it emerged an officer had failed to send an ambulance to Sophie's home.

He mistakenly believed one had already been called and his error meant the countess had to wait 30 minutes for an ambulance.

The inspector has since been moved to desk duties and Surrey Police have apologised to Sophie.

The earl and countess are thought to have chosen the baby's name, but it must be approved by the Queen before being made public.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's June Kelly
"The baby has already been introduced to some of her closest relatives"



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