IT will be a Royal christening, but not a conventional one. When Prince George is baptised today into the Church of England over which as King he will one day rule supreme, it will be in an intimate ceremony designed to reflect his parents’ personal wishes rather than obey the strict demands of tradition.
The godparents are expected to be close personal friends of the couple, rather than fellow royals, the official photographer is more familiar with movie sets and rock stars than ermine and palaces, while the venue is not Buckingham Palace as is traditional, but the Chapel Royal where Diana, the Princess of Wales lay before her funeral.
There will also be a number of royals absent with Princess Anne and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, not invited. The ceremony, at 3pm today, is a further sign the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are intent on re-shaping their roles to their lives.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who has already spoken of the “great privilege and honour” to christen the prince, said yesterday: “As a nation we’re celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state. That’s extraordinary. It gives you this sense of forward looking, of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness of history, and what a gift to have this new life and to look forward.”
Yesterday it was announced the person invited to take the official portrait after the baptism is Jason Bell, a celebrity photographer who has worked with Sir Paul McCartney, David Beckham and publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair.
A statement said: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked Jason Bell to be the official photographer at the christening of their son, Prince George. Mr Bell will take the photographs at Clarence House after the service in the Chapel Royal. Jason Bell is a well-established portrait photographer and his work has appeared in many of the world’s foremost publications.”
The pictures will undoubtedly be historic, expected to capture four generations of the royal family together. They will show the Queen with three future monarchs – the Prince of Wales, William and George. It will echo the image taken in July 1894 during the christening of the future Edward VIII, showing the royal baby with his father, later George V; grandfather, the future Edward VII; and great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
The guest list has not been released but Kensington Palace has said “close members of both families’’ will attend. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are expected along with Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry. Kate’s family, parents Carole and Michael Middleton and siblings Pippa and James, are likely to be invited, with the as yet unnamed godparents.
There has been speculation about their identity. Close friends Hugh van Cutsem and Thomas van Straubenzee are thought to be in the running with Old Etonian James Meade.