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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Profile: Earl and Countess of Wessex
Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex at Royal Ascot in 2007
Edward and Sophie are expecting their second child

Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex have had a troubled time becoming parents.

In 2001, the countess lost a baby when she suffered a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

She was airlifted to hospital from her home at Bagshot Park in Surrey after she became unwell overnight and an air ambulance with a paramedic team was called.

The countess underwent a two-and-a-half hour operation after the condition was discovered.

She is understood to have lost a lot of blood, but made a recovery at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London.

On leaving hospital, she said: "I'm obviously very sad, but it was just not meant to be. But there will be other chances."

Premature birth

In 2003, Buckingham Palace announced Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex were expecting a baby in December.

The countess underwent an emergency Caesarean section at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey after suffering cramps at home on 8 November.

The baby, who was four weeks premature and 4lb 9oz when she was born, was initially taken to the neo-natal unit of St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London, for special care, but was later moved back to the Frimley Park Hospital to rejoin her mother.

Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex with Lady Louise Windsor
The prince and the countess with newborn Lady Louise Windsor

Leaving hospital 11 days after the birth, the countess said of the new arrival: "She is wonderful. She is doing very well."

The birth caused controversy after it was revealed that a police inspector had failed to send an ambulance to the couple's home.

He mistakenly believed one had already been called and his error, for which he later apologised, meant the mother-to-be had to wait 30 minutes for an ambulance.

The couple named the baby Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, to be referred to as Lady Louise Windsor.

Lady Louise was christened at Windsor Castle in a private chapel by the Dean of Windsor, Bishop David Conner.

The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and the countess's parents, Christopher and Mary Rhys-Jones, all attended the ceremony.

Business controversy

Prince Edward met his future wife briefly while she was a press officer for a radio station and they met again at a charity tennis match in 1993 in the grounds of Bagshot Park.

Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones married in a ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor in 1999.

Sophie was styled Her Royal Highness, the Countess Wessex, in accordance with her husband's new title of the Earl of Wessex. The Queen revived the 11th Century title in honour of the wedding.

The countess was embroiled in controversy when she was the victim of a newspaper sting.

The affair intensified criticism of her dual role as a member of the Royal Family and businesswoman and she was widely attacked for allegedly using her royal status to win lucrative contracts.

Then in 2002, the Earl and Countess of Wessex said they were standing down from their business roles.

The reason for their decision was to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee, but the move was permanent.

The prince had set up his own production company, Ardent Productions, and the countess worked at RJH Public Relations, where she had a controlling share interest.

Baby study

There was sadness for the couple in 2005 when the countess's mother, charity worker Mary Rhys-Jones, died in hospital at the age of 71 following a short illness. The countess was with Mrs Rhys-Jones at her hospital bedside.

Given their experiences, it was appropriate that the countess launched a pioneering three-year study into the health of 10,000 babies born in Bradford in 2006.

The city was chosen for the research because of its high infant mortality rate and diverse ethnic make-up.

Buckingham Palace has announced that the couple are expecting their second child in December.

A spokesman for Sophie, 42, and Edward, 43, said they were "thrilled and excited".


SEE ALSO
Sophie 'very sad' at losing baby
07 Dec 01 |  UK News

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