October 24

Future King of Australia is christened

He was, in every sense, the perfect baby. Prince George, who will one day be king and head of the Church of England, was calmness personified throughout his half-hour christening ceremony today.

It may have been “the first time he’s been quiet all day”, as his father, the Duke of Cambridge, joked before the ceremony, but the three-month-old Prince showed he has the temperament for the big occasion as he took the whole thing in his stride.

Insiders said he barely raised a whimper of protest when the Archbishop of Canterbury trickled water from the River Jordan on his head, unlike his father, who cried during and after his own christening, prompting the Queen Mother to say: “He has a good set of lungs.”

When Prince George arrived for the ceremony, wearing a replica of the 172-year-old royal christening robe, there was even the smallest hint of a wave for his great-grandmother, the Queen.

The only thing missing was a smile, though at three months old, it would have been unfair to expect that even from a royal baby.

The Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a cream jacket and skirt by Alexander McQueen, the fashion house to which she had entrusted her wedding gown, had admitted to being “very excited” as she arrived for the baptism in the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace.

The Duke of Cambridge told his family: “He’s all ready,” adding: “So far, so good.”

The couple had insisted all along that the service would be an “intimate” affair, but just how intimate only emerged when Kensington Palace released the guest list, which ran to just 22 names.

Apart from the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the couple’s parents and siblings, the only other guests were seven godparents with six spouses. Few of the godparents had been among the bookies’ favourites. Zara Tindall was the only member of the Royal family on the list; she was joined by Oliver Baker and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, little-known friends from the Duke and Duchess’s school and university days, and Julia Samuel, a former friend of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Earl Grosvenor, the 22-year-old son of the Duke of Westminster, was also a surprise inclusion, together with the rather more predictable choices of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the Duke and Duchess’s principal private secretary, and William van Cutsem, one of the Duke’s oldest friends.

Prince George’s part-time nanny Jessie Webb, a former nanny to Prince William, also attended the service, though she was not listed as a guest.

Among the first to arrive at the chapel were Carole and Michael Middleton, with their children James, sporting a newly-grown beard, and Pippa, wearing a cream custom-made dress coat and dress by the British label Suzannah.

The Queen, who was given a Royal Salute by the St James’s Palace detachment of The Queen’s Guard, wore baby blue, appropriately, but for once she was upstaged when the boy of the moment made his entrance, carried by the Duke of Cambridge.

Prince George, on only his 94th day in the world, had more than a look of the baby Prince William about him as his father gently jogged him up and down to keep him quiet.

Just as he had done on the day he left hospital, the Prince appeared to offer a slight royal wave as he was greeted by the Queen, though some sleight of hand by the Duke may have had more than a little to do with it.

His Honiton lace robe, perfectly complemented by the Duchess’s outfit, was an exact copy of the original worn by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, in 1841 and used for all subsequent royal christenings including the Queen, her children and grandchildren. The replica was hand-made by the Queen’s dressmaker Angela Kelly and was first worn by the Duke’s cousin, Viscount Severn, in 2008.

After being welcomed at the door of the chapel by the Archbishop, who was supported by the Dean of the Chapel Royal, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, and the Sub-Dean, the Rev Prebendary William Scott, the royal party went inside for surely the most private royal christening in living memory.

Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton, having missed out on being godparents, were chosen to give the readings. Miss Middleton read from Luke Ch.18, in which Christ says “Suffer little children to come unto me”, while Prince Harry read from John Ch.15, in which Jesus tells his followers to “Abide in me, and I in you”.

The Archbishop told the parents and godparents that they had a “simple task”, to: “Make sure he knows who this Jesus is. Speak of him, read stories about him. Introduce him in prayer. Help him to grow and flourish into the person God has created and has called him to be.”

He said that the baptism service was not centred on “a maker of rules and regulations” but on “Jesus, who calls each of us to take a journey.”

He added that the Prince would share the life of Christ with others, which would be “both very costly and infinitely rewarding”, and concluded: “With Christ and his love as our centre, all the needs we meet are faced, all the hopes we have are shaped, and all the possibilities of our life journey are fulfilled.”

Prince George was baptised in the 17in high silver gilt Lily Font, made for Queen Victoria’s children, which is usually kept with the Crown Jewels and has been used for every royal christening since, with the exception of Princess Eugenie.

Using water from the River Jordan, where Christ was baptised by John the Baptist, the Archbishop made the sign of the cross on Prince George’s forehead and trickled water on his head three times to symbolise the Holy Trinity. Prince George, by all accounts, was completely unfazed and Dr Chartres later said to the Duke of Edinburgh: "Ah, he behaved!"

“There were no screams or tantrums,” said one insider. “He seems to have been perfectly behaved throughout."

The Duke and Duchess chose the hymns Breathe on Me, Breath of God and Be Thou My Vision. The latter was sung at the memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Like the choice of the Chapel Royal, where the Princess lay at rest after her death in 1997, it was another subtle way of ensuring a connection to the Duke’s absent mother.

The only other witnesses to the ceremony were the 16-strong Choir of the Chapel Royal, which sang the anthems Blessed Jesu! Here we Stand, composed by Richard Popplewell for the Duke’s own christening in 1982, and The Lord Bless You and Keep You by John Rutter.

After the service the christening party walked the short distance across a courtyard to Clarence House for a champagne reception hosted by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, where they were offered slices of one of the tiers of the Duke and Duchess’s wedding cake, saved for the occasion.

Dr Chartres noticed that Prince George had his hands clasped, and told his parents he was holding them in a “very commanding” way.

Jason Bell, the photographer chosen to take the official photographs inside Clarence House, appeared to be in for an easy ride, as Prince George, now being carried by his mother, was still wearing the same placid expression as when he went into the chapel.

Royal duties? They’re child’s play, it seems.

[This report first appeared on www.telegraph.co.uk on 23 October 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-george/10400662/Prince-George-on-his-best-behaviour-as-he-is-christened.html]


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