Friday 23 August 2019

William's mischief... Charlotte's remark to photographers... Meghan's secret ceremony: royal baptisms through the years

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son, who was born on Monday morning, during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son, who was born on Monday morning, during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
New arrival: Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are joined by her mother, Doria Ragland, as they show their new son to the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on Wednesday
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave Buckingham Palace in a carriage during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 8, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is joined by members of the royal family, including the Wiilaim and Kate (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) with their children Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte; Camilla (Duchess of Cornwall) and Charles (Prince of Wales); Anne (Princess Royal); Andrew (Duke of York); Meghan and Harry (Duke and Duchess of Sussex); and Peter and Autumn Phillips and their children Savannah and Isla, on the balcony of Buckingham Place to watch the flypast after the Trooping the Colour ceremony, as she celebrates her official birthday. All photos: Victoria Jones
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex travel in the Ascot Landau Carriage during their carriage procession after their wedding on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn. Photo: Getty Images
Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger has admitted to being a fan of the Duchess of Sussex (Steve Parsons/PA)
Archie is cool and both traditional and modern-sounding. Photo: Getty Images
Meghan Markle wore a coat dress to show off her newborn son with Prince Harry. Photo: Getty Images
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are seen with their baby son, who was born on Monday morning, during a photocall in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, Britain May 8, 2019. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis after Prince Louis' christening at St James's Palace on July 09, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Photo: Matt Holyoak/Camera Press
Photo: Matt Holyoak/Camera Press
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released this official photograph to mark the christening of Prince Louis on Monday 9th July Photo: Matt Holyoak/Camera Press

Laura Elston

As Britain's Duke and Duchess of Sussex prepare for Archie's christening, here is a look at what goes on at royal baptisms:

- Wedding cake

The top tier of a royal wedding cake is traditionally set aside for royal christenings, just like William and Kate did with their seven tier fruit cake.

But Harry and Meghan chose a layered lemon and elderflower sponge cake, decorated with fresh buttercream, by Claire Ptak of the Violet Bakery, for their wedding reception.

Fruit cakes can be stored for years, but sponge cakes should generally be eaten within two to three days.

The duke and duchess may have decided instead to call on Ms Ptak to make a new cake for Archie's big day - or could turn to palace chefs as they entertain their christening guests at a reception afterwards.

- Harry's christening

The Prince and Princess of Wales had three-month-old Prince Harry christened four days before Christmas in 1984 in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Baby Harry was said to have dozed and behaved impeccably during the private ceremony, but became tearful during the reception until he was comforted by his great-grandmother the Queen Mother.

- William's mischief

Boisterous toddler Prince William was only two-and-a-half at his brother's christening.

He charged around with cousins Peter and Zara Phillips, running between the guests as they chatted in the castle afterwards, before taking centre stage in the official photos.

- Harry's godparents

The duke's six godparents were named as his uncle the Duke of York, the Queen's niece Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (now Lady Sarah Chatto), Lady Vestey, Diana's former flatmate Carolyn Bartholomew, the artist Bryan Organ, and Gerald Ward, who was a close friend of Charles.

- Ted Hughes

The then Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, only two days into the job, wrote a poem commemorating Harry's christening.

He gave it the lengthy title, Rain-Charm For The Duchy: A Blessed, Devout Drench For The Christening Of His Royal Highness Prince Harry, and focused on describing a rain storm in Cornwall after a long drought, rather than on Harry's ceremony.

- Meghan's recent baptism

Meghan was only christened and confirmed into the Christian faith just over a year ago.

The secret ceremony carried out by the Archbishop of Canterbury took place in the Chapel Royal in March 2018 ahead of her marriage.

Holy water was poured on the former Suits star's head as part of the religious ritual, in front of a small number of guests including Harry and the Prince of Wales.

Meghan was seen wearing a bracelet featuring a cross just days later.

- Princess Charlotte

At Prince Louis's christening, Princess Charlotte was taking no nonsense from the photographers outside the Chapel Royal.

"You're not coming," the three-year-old remarked, fixing them with a stern stare, with William just about able to contain his amusement at his daughter's outspoken comment.

- Godparents

Royal babies traditionally used to have kings and queens and other royals as godparents.

Prince Charles's godparents in 1948 included King George VI, Queen Mary, Princess Margaret, the King of Norway and Prince George of Greece.

But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge picked mostly friends for their children.

- Holy water

According to tradition, the water used for Archie's service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby, will be holy water from the River Jordan, where it is said Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

- Lily font

Royal babies are also christened using the ornate silver gilt Lily Font - part of the Crown Jewels.

It is decorated with lilies and ivy foliage around the rim, features three cherubs around the base, and the main bowl is a large lily bloom.

- Protecting reputations

The font was specially commissioned by Queen Victoria to prevent her children being tarnished by association with the illegitimate offspring of Charles II, who were all born out of wedlock and christened using the previous font, the Charles II Font.

- The first public royal christening

Most christenings are private. Princess Eugenie was the first royal baby to have a public christening.

She was baptised during morning service at the church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham just before Christmas in 1990.

- Troublesome royals

Queen Victoria's mother the Duchess of Kent broke down sobbing during her daughter's christening in 1819 when a cantankerous Prince Regent, the future George IV, refused to allow her to name her daughter Georgiana and insisted she be called Alexandrina Victoria instead in honour of the Russian Tsar Alexander I.

At the christening of Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Alice, in 1843, the Queen's uncle, Ernest, King of Hanover, arrived late, behaved rudely and made a public fuss in a dispute with Victoria over the ownership of certain royal jewels.

Online Editors

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