THE TINY hand will one day hold a sceptre and the head will wear a crown but for Prince George the first royal ceremony of his young life requires only a hand-made replica gown for his baptism in the Church of England over which he will reign as Supreme Governor.
Where in the past royal babies were baptised inside Buckingham Palace, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have instead broken with tradition and chosen the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, where Diana, Princess of Wales lay before her funeral.
The young couple have also thought to have chosen their own godparents from close friends as opposed to senior royals but it remained unclear last night if Cressida Bonas, Prince Harry’s girlfriend who is tipped as a future Royal bride would attend, for despite an official invitation she is said to be too nervous of the media attention.
The guest list has not been released but Kensington Palace has said that “close members of both families” will attend. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are expected to be in attendance along with the Prince of Wales, for whom George is his first grandchild, the Duchess
of Cornwall and Prince Harry. Carole and Michael Middleton and their son and daughter, Pippa and Michael are also likely to attend along with the godparents.
There has been speculation about who the Cambridges might choose to be their son’s godparents with Hugh van Cutsem and Thomas van Straubenzee, close friends of William, mentioned as well as Fergus Boyd, the couple’s flat mate at St Andrew’s University. Other
contenders are said to include Emilia d’Erlanger, Hannah Cater and Catriona Foyle, who were friends of Kate Middleton at Marlborough College.
The small, intimate chapel, which has oak-panelled stalls lined with tall, green lamps, is renowned for its acoustics and should offer each guest a chance to hear Prince George, if like many babies at their christening, he wishes to make a vocal contribution. William has made
frequent references to his son’s capacity to bawl. When he left the hospital after the birth he said: “He’s got a good pair of lungs on him, that’s for sure” while he recently joked that his son had “a voice to match any lion’s roar”.
The chapel, which is steeped in history is where Charles I received Holy Communion before his execution in 1649 and is where Prince William and Prince Harry paid their last respects to their mother before her funeral in 1997 and where Kate Middleton was confirmed into the Church of England in 2011.
The baptism of the future king will be performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and as an heir to the throne Prince George will one day take on the title Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. While the service will be private, it is tradition that afterwards a photograph is released to the media and will show the Queen with three generations of future monarchs, Charles, William and George. It will echo the picture 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.
Prince George will be dressed in a replica of the intricate lace and satin christening gown made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal in 1841. The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s son, Viscount Severn, became the first royal baby to wear the new robe at his christening in 2008. Prince William and Prince Harry were both christened in the original gown in Buckingham Palace.
The Christening is expected to run smoothly as the couple are united on the same name, unlike Queen Victoria’s christening in 1819 where the parents argued, with the Duchess of Kent wanting her daughter to be called Georgiana only to be over-ruled at the font by her husband,
the Prince Regent. The Duchess broke down and sobbed during the entire proceedings. Any unhappy tears shed tomorrow are likely to be from the youngest member of the Royal Family.