Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Royal Christening in Britain Amid a Refrain of Coos

Published: October 23, 2013

LONDON — Some spent the night in the English rain, huddling under tarpaulins and keeping warm with flasks of tea outside St. James’s Palace. It was all to secure a good view of Prince George of Cambridge on his christening day Wednesday. The prince had not been seen in public since he was born three months ago.

Apparently it was worth it. “Aww,” the crowd cooed loudly when the prince, third in line to the throne, arrived with his parents, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. The sun was out and the prince was dressed in a lace and satin replica of the christening gown made for the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria in 1841. “He looks like a girl,” one delighted onlooker commented.

A royal christening has perhaps a special significance in a country that has its own church. Ever since Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church and established a more accommodating version in 1534 so he could divorce and re-wed (several times), Britain’s royals have been the guardians of the Church of England.

Prince George, in other words, will not just be king one day, he will be defender of the faith and supreme governor of the Church of England.

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, baptized the prince, whose full name is George Alexander Louis, with water from the River Jordan in a 45-minute ceremony. Archbishop Welby said he hoped that the event would inspire more Britons to come back to church. In a video released on YouTube ahead of the service, he said Prince George would be joining two billion people around the world in the “family” of the church, adding that “the great good news is that God doesn’t care who we are.”

If tradition was on ample display in some ways, in others it was conspicuously absent.


Prince George to wear replica of 172-year-old christening gown

Prince William, Prince Charles, and the Queen all wore the same Honiton lace and white satin gown to mark their entrance into the Church of England. The christening of Prince Edward Albert of York (later King Edward VIII), pictured left in the arms of Queen Victoria, with the Duke of York (later King George V) and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), demonstrates the incredible history behind the robe. On the right, Queen Elizabeth II is seen with her parents on her christening day in May 1926. Photo: © Getty Images

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