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Royal baby "stable" after premature birth: palace
( 2003-11-10 09:30) (Agencies)

The youngest son of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Edward, Earl of Wessex, has become a father for the first time, with his wife Sophie giving birth to a baby girl by emergency caesarean section.

The baby was born shortly before midnight on Saturday and several weeks before it was due, said a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace. It comes after a dangerous failed pregnancy left the couple devastated in 2001.

"She was born at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey at 11:32 last night by emergency caesarean section, and is four pounds and nine ounces," said the spokeswoman.

She said both the Countess, 38, and the baby were "stable," but the baby had been taken to a "neo-natal" clinic at the nearby St Georges Hospital as a ¡°precautionary measure.¡±

The Earl is flying home from an official trip to Mauritius to be with them.

The birth comes just two years after Sophie, then 36, was airlifted to hospital and underwent a 2-1/2 hour operation to end a potentially life threatening ectopic pregnancy, in which the fetus grew outside her womb.

The spokeswoman said it was too early to talk about names for the baby, who is eighth in line to the throne and the queen¡¯s seventh grandchild.

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