Friday 19 July 2019

Baby Archie's christening: a guide to Meghan and Harry's inner circle - and godparent contenders

Britain's Meghan (C), Duchess of Sussex applauds after US player Serena Williams beat Slovakia's Kaja Juvan during their women's singles second round match on the fourth day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Britain's Meghan (C), Duchess of Sussex applauds after US player Serena Williams beat Slovakia's Kaja Juvan during their women's singles second round match on the fourth day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Jessica Mulroney arrives for the baby shower for Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Mark Hotel Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).
Meghan Markle and Jessica Mulroney attend the Instagram Dinner held at the MARS Discovery District on May 31, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Meghan Markle and Jessica Mulroney. Picture: Instagram
Meghan Markle chooses wedding dress for Suits character Rachel with friend Jessica Mulroney | Youtube
Serena Williams. Photo: Reuters
Co-host for the evening Serena Williams combined Nike sneakers with a yellow, strong-shouldered Versace gown. (Jennifer Gratlock/PA)
Guests: George and Amal at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo: Ian West - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Benita Litt (L) and bridesmaid arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England
US actor George Clooney (R) and wife British-Lebanese Amal Clooney arrive to the premiere of "Catch-22" on May 13, 2019 in Rome (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
Actress Abigail Spencer arrives for the baby shower for Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at The Mark Hotel Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Priyanka Chopra arriving at the royal wedding with Meghan’s Suits co-star Abigail Spencer (Chris Jackson/PA)
Meghan Markle with Misha Nonoo and Marks Anderson. Picture: Instagram
Tom Inskip arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Nicholas Van Cutsem in 2013
Guy Pelly and his wife Lizzy arriving for the christening of Prince Louis Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Thomas van Straubenzee attends day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 16, 2017 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Tiggy Legg-Bourke attends a thanksgiving service for Gerald Ward, godfather of Prince Harry, at St Mary's Church, Chiltern Foliat on October 3, 2008 near Hungerford, England
Prince Harry (centre) with Sentebale charity co-founder Prince Seeiso of Lesotho on stage during a Sentebale concert in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, to raise awareness and funds for adolescents living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Credit: Tabatha Fireman/PA Wire
Princess Eugenie in the winners enclosure during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
Oprah Winfrey attends the Stella McCartney show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020 on March 04, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 18, 2019 Britain's Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice arrive at Ascot

Laura Eslton

Britain's Duchess of Sussex is likely to have turned to her inner circle of faithful friends for son Archie's godparents.

Stylist Jessica Mulroney and fashion designer Misha Nonoo have been tipped as having been chosen for the special role. There was also speculation that Serena Williams would be asked but the tennis star has now appeared to rule herself out. Meghan and the Duke of Sussex will gather with just 25 friends and family for the ceremony in the private chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

Godparents of royal babies are traditionally announced beforehand - often on the morning of the christening - but the American former actress and Harry will not be releasing the names.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "The godparents, in keeping with their wishes, will remain private."

Two-month-old Archie is seventh in line to the throne and not an HRH.

But when the Earl and Countess of Wessex's daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, who was born eighth in line and is also not an HRH, was baptised in 2004, her five godparents were announced by Buckingham Palace.

Society photographer Lord Patrick Lichfield, who was a first cousin once-removed of the Queen, took the official photographs of Lady Louise, who was pictured with her parents, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, her maternal grandparents and her godparents.

Lady Louise's ceremony also took place in the private chapel of Windsor Castle.

While the tradition for royal babies used to be to select elderly or foreign relatives for the spiritual role, Harry and Meghan appear likely to follow in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's footsteps and opt for mostly friends over family.

Royal infants usually have more than the standard three godparents.

Prince Louis has six, future king Prince George has seven and Princess Charlotte has five.

So who are likely to be Archie's godparents?

Jessica Mulroney

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Jessica Mulroney arrives for the baby shower for Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Mark Hotel Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).
 

Meghan's stylist and best friend is expected to play an important part in Archie's life. She supported Meghan in the difficult days leading up to the wedding amid the turmoil caused by the absence of her father, Thomas Markle.

Mrs Mulroney's children - twin boys Brian and John and daughter Ivy - were pageboys and bridesmaid. She is married to Ben Mulroney, son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Benita Litt

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Benita Litt (L) and bridesmaid arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England
 

The duchess's close friend runs her own brand agency and helps others to start businesses. Meghan has spent Christmas with the Litt family in the past.

She is godmother to Mrs Litt's daughters, Rylan and Remi, and also chose them to be her bridesmaids.

Serena Williams

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(L-R) Meghan Markle, Serena Williams and Hannah Davis participate in the DirecTV Beach Bowl at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DirecTV)
 

The tennis superstar is currently in London competing for glory at Wimbledon, and the duchess paid a visit on Thursday to watch her in action.

The sports star is said to have hosted Meghan's lavish baby shower in the £57,400-a-night penthouse of the Mark Hotel in New York City earlier this year. The pair have been friends since 2010 when they met at a Super Bowl party.

Meghan wrote of Williams on her former lifestyle website The Tig: "She quickly became a confidante I would text when I was travelling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches, and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with."

But after Williams won her second round singles match on Thursday she was asked if Meghan had asked her to be a godmother and if she was going to the christening and replied: "No, I'm working on Saturday."

Misha Nonoo

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Meghan Markle and Misha Nonoo
 

Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is credited with introducing Harry to his future wife via a blind date. She had a VIP seat at the royal wedding and used to be married to William and Harry's friend Alexander Gilkes.

Amal Clooney

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US actor George Clooney (R) and wife British-Lebanese Amal Clooney arrive to the premiere of "Catch-22" on May 13, 2019 in Rome (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
 

Meghan could ask human rights lawyer Amal, who attended her luxury baby shower, to be godmother. Amal's husband Hollywood star George Clooney, who shares a May 6 birthday with Archie, has denied he will be a godfather, declaring: "No, I'm now a father of twins, I've got enough shit. Literally, literally shit."

He claimed that Meghan was being "pursued and vilified" and compared her treatment to that of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Sussexes have holidayed with the Clooneys in Italy.

Abigail Spencer

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Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, May 19, 2018. Chris Jackson/Pool via REUTERS
 

Meghan has been friends with the actress since they starred together in the US legal drama Suits. She also used to contribute to Meghan's lifestyle site.

Markus Anderson

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Meghan Markle with Misha Nonoo and Marks Anderson. Picture: Instagram
 

Markus Anderson is Meghan's best male friend, and the pair used to holiday together with Ms Nonoo. Mr Anderson is director of members' club Soho House where the couple's blind date is said to have taken place in the summer of 2016.

"What would I do without you, my loving, supportive, and endlessly fun friend??" Meghan once posted about Mr Anderson.

Nicholas van Cutsem

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Nicholas Van Cutsem in 2013
 

It is not just Meghan's friends who are expected to get a look-in. The van Cutsems have been long-standing family pals of Harry, William and the Prince of Wales for many years.

Harry might pick Major Nicholas van Cutsem, whose daughter Florence was a bridesmaid at the royal wedding and is Harry's goddaughter.

Maj van Cutsem is already a godfather to Prince Louis. Harry could choose one of the other van Cutsem brothers - Edward, Hugh or William, who is one of Prince George's godfathers.

Tom Inskip

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Tom Inskip arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Tom "Skippy" Inskip has long been considered Harry's wingman and was at his side during his partying days.

They were childhood friends at Eton and Harry and Meghan attended his wedding to Lara Hughes-Young in Jamaica in 2017.

Guy Pelly

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Guy Pelly and his wife Lizzy arriving for the christening of Prince Louis Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
 

Dubbed the royal court jester for his wild ways, Guy Pelly, whose family are wealthy Kent landowners, has settled down in recent years, marrying American hotel heiress Elizabeth "Lizzy" Wilson.

He was often cited as a bad influence on the royal brothers in their youth, but was asked to be one of Louis's godparents.

Thomas or Charlie van Straubenzee

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Thomas van Straubenzee attends day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 16, 2017 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
 

Harry and William have also been friends with the van Straubenzees for many years, so it is likely Thomas or his brother Charlie might be asked to be godfather. Thomas van Straubenzee is already godfather to Princess Charlotte, and Harry was said to have been Charlie's best man at his wedding to Daisy Jenks.

Prince Seeiso of Lesotho

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Prince Harry (centre) with Sentebale charity co-founder Prince Seeiso of Lesotho on stage during a Sentebale concert in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, to raise awareness and funds for adolescents living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Credit: Tabatha Fireman/PA Wire
 

Prince Seeiso and Harry set up the charity Sentebale together to help impoverished Aids orphans in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho.

They have a strong bond and have been friends for 15 years after Seeiso invited Harry to spend a seminal two months in Lesotho during his gap year.

Mark Dyer

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Britain's Prince Harry (R), alongside former Royal Equerry Mark Dyer, smiles as he attends the Sentebale Concert at Kensington Palace in central London on June 28, 2016 in London LIPINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry's mentor has been a key father figure since childhood. The former Welsh Guards officer, who was an equerry to the Prince of Wales, was tasked by Charles with keeping an eye on Harry in his youth.

They travelled together in Harry's gap year and he helped arrange Harry's stay in Lesotho.

His son Jasper - the duke's godson - was one of Harry and Meghan's pageboys.

Jake Warren

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Jake Warren laughs as he arrives by carriage in the Parade Ring as he attends Ladies Day on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2015 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Jake Warren is firm friends with Harry and is the son of the Queen's bloodstock and racing adviser, John Warren. His daughter Zalie was the youngest bridesmaid at the royal wedding and is another of Harry's godchildren.

Princess Eugenie

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Princess Eugenie in the winners enclosure during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
 

Harry and Meghan may opt to include a royal in the line-up, perhaps choosing the duke's cousin, Princess Eugenie.

Harry and William used to spend skiing holidays with the Yorks in the 1990s, and Eugenie is said to have introduced Harry to his ex-girlfriend, Cressida Bonas.

Other potentials include Peter Phillips or Zara Tindall. The duke is godfather to Zara's youngest daughter Lena.

Links to Princess Diana

Harry may want to recognise bonds with friends of his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash when he was 12.

He invited Diana's former flatmate, Carolyn Bartholomew, and one of her best friends, Julia Samuel, who is also a godmother to George, to his wedding.

Or perhaps he might choose someone from Diana's Spencer family - possibly her sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale or Lady Jane Fellowes, or more likely a cousin from the Spencer side, such as Louis, Viscount Althorp, Celia Woodhouse, Eleanor Fellowes or George McCorquodale.

Tiggy Pettifer

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Tiggy Legg-Bourke attends a thanksgiving service for Gerald Ward, godfather of Prince Harry, at St Mary's Church, Chiltern Foliat on October 3, 2008 near Hungerford, England
 

Harry's much-loved former nanny Tiggy Legge Bourke, now Tiggy Pettifer, has played a significant role in his life. She once described William and Harry as "my babies", and helped care for the princes following the death of their mother in 1997.

Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah Winfrey (AP)
 

The chat show queen was seated in the exclusive Quire seats for the royal wedding, and Harry is collaborating with Oprah on a new documentary series on mental health.

Winfrey said she was overcome with emotion during the ceremony, telling British Vogue: "It left me feeling that anything is possible through the power of love." She invited Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, to her home ahead of the wedding.

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