Low key christening for Prince George

Oct 24, 2013
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrives holding her son Prince George of Cambridge at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, ahead of his christening.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrives holding her son Prince George of Cambridge at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, ahead of his christening.

The future heir to the throne, Prince George, has been christened in a low-key and private ceremony that spanned four generations of the royal family.

The royal baby looked pink-cheeked, chubby and peaceful as he emerged from the 35-minute service at the historic Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in the arms of his mother the Duchess of Cambridge, who beamed with delight.

It was only the future king’s second appearance in public after proud parents William and Kate introduced him as they left the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, London, the day after he was born on July 22.

In a ceremony far removed from the global hype surrounding Kate and William’s wedding, George was christened with water from the River Jordan in a service that, in some ways, broke conventions and royal norms.

The Queen and the couple’s parents and siblings were among just 22 guests, including seven godparents taken from William and Kate’s circle of friends.

In a break with tradition, the only royal among the godparents is Zara Phillips, the champion horse-rider and William’s cousin.

Those chosen to provide guidance to George as he grows up also include William’s childhood friends William van Cutsem and Earl Hugh Grosvenor; Julia Samuel, who was close to the duke’s mother Diana; and Emilia Jardine-Paterson, who went to school with Kate.

Rounding out the list are Oliver Baker, a friend from St Andrew’s University in Scotland, where the royal couple met, and William’s long-time aide Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former soldier in the elite SAS army unit.

Prince George and his proud parents before the christening.

Prince George and his proud parents before the christening.

Respected Royal historian Anna Whitelock said Wednesday’s ceremony, and the decision to name close family friends as godparents, was in keeping with Kate and William’s intention to give their son as “normal” an upbringing as possible.

“No doubt they (the godparents) will have a very close involvement in his life,” Dr Whitelock told AAP.

“It’s clearly about building a group of people around the prince who are as much as possible grounded; normal people that he can be expected to have regular contact with. Not remote foreign dignitaries.”

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby conducted the christening and told George’s parents and godparents that they had a “simple task” to “make sure he knows who this Jesus is”.

Harry and Pippa Middleton gave bible readings and the service also featured two hymns, two lessons and two anthems chosen by William and Kate, who wore a cream Alexander McQueen outfit and a matching hat by Jane Taylor.

Earlier, George blew bubbles as he was gently bounced by his father before the christening began at the historic Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace.

And proud father William told the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry that the content infant was the “quietest” he had been all day.

The day was clearly a happy event for all involved and Dr Whitelock said it appeared Kate and William had succeeded in having a quiet and family-oriented christening.

“As far as we can see, it’s happy families and also very small happy families,” she said.

“Keeping it small, keeping it intimate, I think ultimately it would have been the ceremony William and Kate would have wanted.”

Celebrity photographer Jason Bell was on hand to shoot the service and the palace will on Thursday release the extremely rare image of four future monarchs together in Princes George, William and Charles along with the Queen.

It is the first time a reigning monarch and three future monarchs have been together since 1894.

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