British royal Prince Edward's wife, the COUNTESS OF WESSEX, has given birth to a baby girl by emergency Caesarean section, London's Buckingham Palace has announced.

The palace says the baby, who was born several weeks prematurely on Saturday night (08NOV03), weighing two kilograms (four pounds and nine ounces). Doctors at FRIMLEY PARK HOSPITAL say both mother and daughter are "stable".

SOPHIE RHYS-JONES, 38, married Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II's fourth and youngest child, in 1999. The couple's first baby is eighth in line to the throne.

Representatives say the baby has been moved from the hospital of its birth, near Edward and Sophie's rural home in South East England, to the neonatal unit of ST GEORGE'S HOSPITAL in London as a precaution. The Countess will be staying in hospital "for the foreseeable future", says the palace.

Prince Edward, 39, is flying home from an official visit to Mauritius to see his wife and daughter.

Edward's older brother, Prince Charles, says, "I'm thrilled to hear that my sister-in-law has given birth to a baby girl. I know how much this means to both her and my brother and I could not be more delighted."

Sophie suffered a miscarriage in December 2001 after doctors diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy.

10/11/2003 08:56