Modern, Historic Christening: the Baptism of Prince George of Cambridge

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by World Press, Oct 29, 2013.

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    Will and Kate’s infant christened in a private, traditional ceremony

    USATODAY: The Church of England welcomes its newest royal member, Prince George. Seven godparents were chosen, including old school friends of Will and Kate. The Church of England rejoiced over its newest, youngest and most famous royal member, Prince George of Cambridge.

    Duchess Catherine leaves with her 3-month-old son after his christening
    ceremony. Behind her is Bishop of London Richard Chartres.

    The 3-month-old royal baby was christened Wednesday, ritually welcomed into the Anglican Church as George Alexander Louis, in a small, private ceremony in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace in London.

    As his parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, grandparents, great-grandparents and seven godparents looked on, the baby was baptized by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in a 172 year-old silver baptismal font.

    The christening blended tradition and innovation in yet another display of the young royals’ savvy approach to duty, history, modernity and informality that they have made their hallmark.

    The guest list for the ceremony was short, just 22 people and only five royals: great-grandparents Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip; grandfather Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Prince Harry. Also, there were maternal grandparents Michael and Carole Middleton and Kate’s siblings, Pippa and James Middleton.

    The godparents included old friends of Will and Kate’s from childhood, high school and college; their former private secretary; an old friend of William’s late mother, Princess Diana; and the single member of the royal family, William’s cousin Zara Phillips Tindall, the queen’s eldest granddaughter and daughter to Princess Anne.
    Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton did not make the list, but royal experts say that’s because the pair will already be in his life as aunt and uncle.

    Prior to the ceremony, Will and Kate hosted an informal tea party at their residence in Kensington Palace for guests not attending the ceremony, such as old college friends of the couple and Will’s former colleagues at the RAF base in Wales where he was a helicopter pilot.

    After the ceremony, Charles hosted a tea party at his London residence, Clarence House.

    Kate was color-coordinated with her son in his silk-and-lace christening gown: She wore a cream-colored, ruffled bespoke dress by Alexander McQueen and a matching fascinatortype hat by Jane Taylor.

    The historic picture of the queen and three generations of her heirs (the first such picture since 1894) will be released today. (The palace said Tuesday the photographer will be Jason Bell, 44, best known for his Hollywood celebrity portraits in Vogue and Vanity Fair.) It was raining heavily in London, but that didn’t stop royal fans, some outfitted in colorful gear, from gathering outside the chapel early. Beneath a blue tarp, seven die-hard royalists slept overnight on the sidewalk in anticipation.

    “My future king knows I’ve been here all night,” said Julie Cain, 50, of New Castle. “It gives you a sense of pride.”
    “This is a historic moment,” said John Loughrey, 58, of London, a self-proclaimed “Diana super-fan.” “Princess Diana will be giving her special love today.”

    Decked out in a Union Jack suit, Terry Hutt, 78, spent hours stringing British flags to the barricades across the street from St. James’s Palace.

    “I’d like to think that I’ve become a royal family godparent of sorts,” Hutt said.

    The ceremony was less than 45 minutes and took place in private, as is typical for royal christenings. Not typical was the venue: Most royals, including William, Charles and the queen, were christened in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace. The last royal baby to be christened in the Chapel Royal was Princess Beatrice, William’s cousin, in 1988.

    The Chapel Royal, started by Henry VIII in 1540, is much more intimate and has a rich history. It is believed to be the burial place of the heart of Queen Mary I, the elder daughter of Henry VIII. It’s where her younger sister Queen Elizabeth I waited and prayed during the Spanish Armada crisis in 1588. It was where Charles I received last rites before his head was chopped off in Whitehall in 1649. And it was where Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.

    But its real historic significance to the royal couple is its poignant association with Diana, whose coffin lay before the chapel’s altar ahead of her funeral in Westminster Abbey in 1997.

    The 17-inch-high silver-gilt baptismal font, the Lily Font, is part of the Crown Jewels collection kept at the Tower of London; it was moved to the chapel for the ceremony and contained water from the River Jordan, the palace said. Made for the baptism of Queen Victoria’s first child, the carved baptismal font has been used for the christening of every royal baby since Princess Victoria in 1841.

    Prince George wore a handmade replica of the christening gown first made for Princess Victoria and worn by every royal baby up to 2008. Made of silk and Honiton lace lined with white satin, it was, by 2008, too fragile for further use, so the queen commissioned a replica.

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