I’m quoted in a couple of articles published today about Prince George of Cambridge, the christening and the godparents.by
I will be discussing Prince George of Cambridge’s christening on CBC radio early in the morning on October 23. Here’s the cross-Canada schedule (In Eastern Time):
6:40am Thunder Bay – Superior Morning
7:10am Gander – Central Morning
7:25am Yellowknife - The Trailbreaker
7:40am Edmonton - Edmonton AM
7:50am Whitehorse – A New Day
8:05am Kamloops – Daybreak Kamloops
8:20am Regina – The Morning Edition
8:40am Daybreak North
The Kings & Queens of England: The Biography stands out from other collective biographies of Queen Elizabeth UU and her predecessors because it begins with the unification of what is now England under the Saxon King Athelstan and ends with analysis of Prince Charles as the future King. Most studies of Queen Elizabeth II and her predecessors begin with William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and end with the present reign. By expanding the scope of The Kings & Queens of England: The Biography, David Loades, author of over thirty books including Henry VIII, Mary Rose and The Boleyns: The Rise & Fall of a Tudor Family, reveals the origins of the relationship between England and the monarchy and the nature of the institution that will be inherited by the Prince of Wales.
Since forty monarchs reigned between 1066 and the present day alone, each chapter about an individual monarch is brief, focusing on key themes. Loades states in the introduction that his goal is to recover the identities of each ruler but he is far more interested in how successive monarchs engaged with their subjects, church and finances than the personal lives of Kings and Queens. This approach reveals some interesting trends in royal history. Despite his reputation for indulgent living, King Edward IV was the first monarch to die solvent since Henry II, setting a precedent for the frugality displayed by Edward IV. Long after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, constitutional monarchs continued to exert influence and Loades presents the Hanoverian Kings and their families as political figures rather than focusing on their dysfunctional family relationships.
The strongest section of The Kings & Queens of England: The Biography are the chapters about the Tudor monarchs, Loades’s field of expertise. Loades complicates the popular perceptions of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I. He explains that Henry VII did not live up to his reputation as a miser, spending large sums on court spectacles in keeping with the other monarchs of the time. The execution of the Duke of Buckingham, dramatized in the first season of the Showtime TV series, The Tudors, emerges as a turning point in the reign of Henry VIII, the moment when he developed a distrust of the nobility and came to rely on advisers from humbler backgrounds.
In a book covering over a thousand years of history, the occasional factual error is difficult to avoid. In the early chapters of the book, Loades occasionally misinterprets the personal lives, families and relationships of the medieval Kings. He states that the ultimate fate of Harold II’s children is “not known” even though the last Saxon King’s daughter Gytha made a prestigious royal marriage after the Battle of Hastings, becoming the consort of Vladimir Monomakh, Grand Duke of Kiev. The genealogical tables erroneously present King Stephen’s mother, Adela, as the daughter of Henry I rather than his sister.
Unfortunately, the number of factual errors increases in the chapters concerning Queen Victoria and her descendants. Loades states that the Queen had ten children, five sons and five daughters when even the genealogical tables in the book affirm that Victoria had nine children and only four sons. Loades asserts that Edward VII emerged from his childhood with “a highly developed moral sense” and that his “flirtations” “were all superficial,” an interpretation that does not match the portrayal of the future King in Jane Ridley’s Bertie: A Life of Edward VII or Stanley Weintraub’s Edward the Caresser: The Playboy Prince Who Became Edward VII. Prince Charles is described as the first royal father to be present in the delivery room for the birth of his child, an inaccurate statement that was widely accepted as fact by the press during the weeks preceding the birth of Prince George of Cambridge in July, 2013
The Kings & Queens of England: The Biography end on a high note with a nuanced final chapter placing Prince Charles in historical context. Loades argues that the current Prince of Wales is the most active heir to the throne since King George II’s son Frederick became involved in opposition politics during the eighteenth century. The book ends with informed speculation regarding Charles’s eventual reign. Loades’s approach to the history of the monarchy reveals how the relationship between crown and country developed over the course of hundreds of years and continues to evolve in the twenty-first century.by
The christening of Prince George of Cambridge on October 23 in the Chapel of Royal of St. James’s Palace will be private occasion attended by family, close friends and the royal baby’s godparents. From Saxon times until well into the reign of Queen Victoria, however, royal christenings were often public occasions. When the christening of a royal baby went according to plan, the ceremony effectively symbolized the close relationship between the Crown and the Church and presented the next generation of royal heirs to the world. Unfortunately, royal christenings also had the potential to showcase unfortunate omens, religious discord and conflicts within the royal family regarding names, godparents and child rearing. Here are the 7 most controversial British royal christenings:
1) King Aethelred the Unready (c. 968-1016) According to the medieval chronicler William of Malmesbury, the life of the future King Aethelred the Unready began inauspiciously when the infant defecated in the font at his christening. Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury exclaimed angrily to the assembled guests, “By God and his mother, this will be a sorry fellow!” Aethelred grew up to become one of the most ineffective Kings of Saxon England, losing his throne to King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark from 1013 to 1014.
2) Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) The future Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn was the first royal baby received into the newly created Church of England. Since the ceremony in the Church of Observant Friars in Greenwich proclaimed both the legitimacy of the King’s second marriage and the new religious settlement, there was critical commentary from supporters of the repudiated Queen Catherine of Aragon and the old papal supremacy. Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, one of Catherine’s most prominent supporters wrote, “the christening has been like her mother’s coronation, very cold and disagreeable, both to the Court and to the city, and there has been no thought of having the bonfires and rejoicings usual in such cases.”
3) Prince Henry Frederick (1594-1612) The eldest son of King James VI of Scotland (the future James I of England) and Anna of Denmark received a lavish christening at Stirling Castle. The King intended to make his son’s ceremony stand out from all previous royal celebrations by surprising the guests with a lion pulling a chariot into the christening banquet. At the last moment, this plan was cancelled as there were concerns that the lion might “forget himself.” Guests had to settle for viewing the King’s lions from a distance as the animals remained in their courtyard enclosure. Prince Henry died at the age of eighteen and his younger brother Charles succeeded James as King Charles I.
4) Princess Catherine Laura (1675) When the future James II’s second wife, Mary of Modena gave birth to her first child, the Roman Catholic royal couple arranged for a secret christening by Mary’s Catholic chaplain. James’s children from his first marriage, the future Queens Mary II and Anne, were Protestants and he wanted the children of his second marriage to share his Roman Catholic faith. When Charles II found out about Catherine Laura’s secret baptism, he ordered a second, Church of England, christening for his niece against the wishes of the baby’s parents. The infant princess died of convulsions at the age of nine months.
5) Prince George William (1717-1718) Arrangements for the christening of the future King George II’s second son led to a lasting rift between the Prince of Wales and his father, King George I. The Prince and Princess of Wales – the future King George II and Queen Caroline – wanted to name their son Louis and suggested the Queen of Prussia and Duke of York as godparents. George I promptly took charge of the christening planning, choosing “George William” as the name for his grandson and asking the Lord Chamberlain, the Duke of Newcastle to be one of the godparents. The Prince of Wales detested Newcastle and confronted him at the ceremony, declaring, “You are a rascal, but I shall find you out!” Due to the Prince’s thick German accent, Newcastle heard “I’ll fight you!” and assumed he had been challenged to a duel. George I banished his son and daughter-in-law from court because this incident, retaining custody of their children. When baby George William died at the age of three months, the Prince of Wales blamed his father for the tragedy because he had separated the child from his parents. The relationship between George I and the future George II never recovered from the circumstances surrounding George William’s christening and death.
6) Queen Victoria (1819-1901) The christening of the future Queen Victoria was the setting of an argument between the baby’s father, the Duke of Kent and her Uncle, the future King George IV, regarding suitable names. The Duke and Duchess intended to name their daughter Victoria Georgiana Alexandrina Charlotte Augusta after her mother and godparents. The King rejected these choices and told his brother and sister-in-law that he would inform them of the baby’s name at the christening. At the ceremony, The Archbishop of Canterbury held the baby over the font until the King decided, after some deliberations, that she would be named Alexandrina for her godfather, Czar Alexander I. The Duke of Kent requested a second name for the baby and suggested Elizabeth. George refused this idea, declaring, “Give her the mother’s name also then but it cannot precede that of the Emperor.” With the name settled, the future Queen was finally christened Alexandrina Victoria.
7) Prince William (1982) After the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, Princess Diana stated that she had been excluded from the planning of her elder son’s christening. Diana stated in a taped interview with James Colthurst published in Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words, “I was treated like nobody else’s business. Nobody asked me when it was suitable for William – 11 o’clock could not have been worse. Endless pictures of the Queen Mother, Charles and William. I was excluded totally that day.” Diana’s biographer, Tina Brown dismissed Diana’s account in The Diana Chronicles, writing, “The christening was a dynastic ceremony involving all the Royal Family, not a “Mommy and Me” class.”by
More than two years after her marriage to Prince William, and two months after the birth of her son, Prince George, the Duchess of Cambridge, better known to the world as Catherine “Kate” Middleton, remains something of an enigma. As the first “middle-class” woman to marry a direct heir to the British throne since Anne Hyde married the future James II in 1660, Catherine is described as both a cornerstone of the modern monarchy and a social climber. The Duchess received near universal acclaim from the public in Canada and the South Pacific during her overseas tours but has been the subject of scathing critiques by prominent Britons including award winning author, Hilary Mantel and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
Now that baby George has arrived, Catherine’s choices as a mother are under intense scrutiny because the decisions she makes and the products she purchases will influence millions of parents around the world. Meanwhile, William and Catherine have said little about their relationship on the record since their engagement interview. In response to the royal couple’s discretion and determination to protect their privacy, speculation regarding their courtship, marriage and parenting has flourished.
In Kate: The Future Queen, Katie Nicholl, Royal Editor and columnist for the Mail on Sunday and contributing editor to Vanity Fair attempts to separate the facts about Catherine’s life from the speculation through extensive interviews with teachers, friends and acquaintances. This fascinating biography fills in key gaps in Catherine’s biography such as when she first met Prince William and how the supposedly “middle class” Middleton family were able to send their children to some of the best schools in the United Kingdom while they built the Party Pieces business that would make them millionaires.
One of the greatest strengths of Nicholl’s work is her decision to place Catherine firmly at the center of the story. Too many books about William and Catherine focus on the impact of the Duchess and the Middleton family on the monarchy. In contrast, Kate: The Future Queen focuses on Catherine’s life before she met William and how her life changed once she decided that the Prince was the man she wanted to marry. Although Nicholl states that William and Catherine chose to omit the word “obey” from their wedding vows because it “somehow seemed so incompatible with the equality on which their relationship was founded,” the courtship brought more changes to Catherine’s “middle class” life than William’s royal existence.
Nicholl provides vivid descriptions of Catherine’s life before William and how dating a Prince changed almost everything. Before William, Catherine Middleton had a wide and varied social circle, held a diverse range of summer jobs from waitress to deckhand, traveled to Florence as an anonymous art history student and was involved in amateur theatricals as well as sports. Life with the Prince entailed sharply curtailing her social circle to include only the most discreet friends, adapting her work schedule to the William’s calendar of military training and royal engagements, and avoiding activities, such as a planned charity Dragon Boat race across the English channel, with the potential to attract a media circus. Certain aspects of Catherine ‘s life before William have survived her transition to Duchess of Cambridge, most notably her close relationship with her family, but Nicholl’s sources demonstrate just how great a change occurred in her life when she began the path to royal life.
Nicholl is at her best when she writes about Catherine, her family and the pressures of dating and marrying royalty but the brief sections involving royal history could have used a little more attention and expansion. There are a few typographical errors – such as King George VI being referred to as “George V” in a passage about the Queen’s engagement to Prince Philip and there not enough comparisons between Catherine and other royal spouses who faced a similar situation to her own. The correspondence of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon reveals that she hesitated before accepting the future George VI’s proposal and the life of royal duty that accompanied it. More comparisons between Catherine’s situation and that of other non-royals who married royalty would have enhanced Nicholl’s work.
Advance reviews of Kate: The Future Queen focused on Nicholl’s controversial evidence that Catherine changed her university plans once William’s intent to attend St. Andrew’s were made public. Nicholl certainly implies that William’s university plans influenced Catherine’s decisions about her future but she allows the reader to draw the final conclusion, writing, “The truth is Kate did change her mind and reapplied to St. Andrews, knowing that the prince was going there, but only she truly knows whether her change of heart was because of William.” Since William and Catherine remain private about the circumstances of their courtship, the Duchess of Cambridge will remain the focus of conjecture but Nicholl’s engaging biography provides fresh insights about her life as well as informed speculation about how she found her prince and what her future will hold as a wife, mother, philanthropist, Princess and Queen.by
Prince George of Cambridge will be christened by The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at St. James’s Palace on October 23. The choice of venue took the public by surprise because both Prince Charles and Prince William were christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, which became a favourite venue for royal christenings after the palace chapel suffered bomb damage during the Second World War. The Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace, however, has been the setting for key royal occasions since the reign of King Henry VIII. The upcoming christening will follow in a long tradition of royal events unfolding within the Chapel Royal.
Today, St. James’s Palace is the administrative centre of the monarchy and the senior royal palace in the United Kingdom. The Accession Council meets at the palace to proclaim each new sovereign and British Ambassadors represent “The Court of St. James.” The palace did not enjoy this prominence when Henry VIII ordered its construction in the 1530s. Henry’s principal residence in London was Whitehall Palace and he intended for St. James’s Palace to be a secondary residence. Much of the palace was constructed on the site of a leper hospital dedicated to St. James the Lesser. The palace chapel was originally part of a nearby convent acquired by the King during the dissolution of the monasteries.
St. James’s Palace was completed in 1536. In 1540, Henry commissioned the artist Hans Holbein to decorate the chapel in honour of his fourth marriage to the German Princess, Anna of Cleves. Holbein had been a key figure in the marriage negotiations, painting the famous portrait of Anna that prompted the King’s proposal of marriage. Although the marriage ceremony itself took place at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, the adornments to St. James’s Palace were intended to celebrate the new Queen.
Unfortunately for Holbein’s career, Henry was not attracted to the actual Anna as he was to her portrait and the marriage was annulled that same year. Holbein continued to work as an artist at court but he received fewer royal commissions after the failure of the King’s 4th marriage.
St. James’s Palace continued to be a significant royal residence during the Tudor period. Two of Henry VIII’s children, Henry Fitzroy and Queen Mary I, died in the palace and the heart of the Queen is buried under the choir stalls. Elizabeth I reputedly prayed for the success of her fleet against the Spanish Armada in the Chapel Royal in 1588.
In 1623, construction began on a new chapel at St. James’s Palace. Negotiations were underway for King James I’s heir, the future Charles I, to marry Princess Henriette-Marie of France and marriage contract ultimately stated, “. . . in all the said King’s Palaces in which the said Madam shall remain or be she shall have a Roman church or chapel capable and large with sufficient commodious entrances not only for the use of Madam and the better sort but also for the meanest of families. And this church or chapel shall be decently adorned according to the rites and customs of the Roman church.”
Inigo Jones, a favourite architect of James I’s late wife, Anna of Denmark designed the new Roman Catholic place of worship and Charles I’s bride brought her own chapel furnishings from France. Although there was widespread public concern that Henrietta Maria would encourage her husband to convert to Roman Catholicism, Charles I remained a devout member of the Church of England and received in his last Communion in the original Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace before his execution at Whitehall in 1649.
During the interregnum, Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell made clear what he thought of Henrietta Maria and her religion by using the Queen’s Chapel as a stable. Henrietta Maria’s chapel became a royal chapel once more in 1938 and the remains of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother remained there during the preparations for her lying-in-state in Westminster Hall after her death in 2002.
After Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in the reign of King William III, in 1698, St. James’s Palace assumed its current role as the administrative centre of the monarchy. Although William preferred to live at Kensington Palace because of his asthma, George I, George II and George III all used St. James’s Palace as their principal residence in London during the eighteenth century. At this time, the Chapel Royal became a significant cultural centre. George Frederic Handel was appointed ‘Composer of Musick of His Majesty’s Chappel Royal’ in 1723 and he composed the music for the coronation of King George II in 1727.
Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace in 1840. The chapel has been renovated in 1836 to include oak paneling and a high ceiling. The overjoyed bride wrote in her journal, “His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! … to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!” In addition to ensuring the Queen’s happiness, the wedding also had worldwide social significance as Victoria’s choice of a white wedding gown with fresh flowers has influenced bridal fashions to the present day.
In contrast to the Georgian monarchs, Victoria did not use St. James’s Palace as her residence, preferring Windsor Castle and the newly enlarged Buckingham Palace as official homes for her growing family. Nevertheless, the Palace continues to be the setting for royal events to the present day. The children of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, Lord Frederick and Lady Gabriella Windsor, were christened in the Chapel Royal in 1979 and 1981 respectively. The Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Beatrice was also christened there in a ceremony conducted by John Habgood, Archbishop of York, in 1988.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen a setting for the christening of their son Prince George that has a long and colourful royal history. For Prince William, the choice of the Chapel Royal also has profound personal significance. In September 1997, the coffin of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales was placed before the altar of the Chapel Royal so that family and friends could pay their respects before the funeral at Westminster Abbey. By choosing the Chapel Royal as the setting for Prince George’s christening, William and Catherine are honouring the late Princess of Wales in addition to their son’s destiny as heir to a thousand year old monarchy.by
The future Empress Matilda was delivered by a team of monks in 1102. Edward II came into the world in a tent during his father’s Welsh campaign in 1284. Henry VIII and his elder brother Arthur were born surrounded by women in chambers specially arranged by their formidable grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. Queen Henrietta Maria’s doctors required parliamentary permission to cross the battle lines of the English Civil Wars to deliver Princess Henrietta Anne in 1644.
Queen Elizabeth II was delivered by caesarian section at her maternal grandfather’s London house. Prince William and his newborn son, Prince George of Cambridge were born in a hospital with the world’s media outside. In Royal Babies, Amy License, author of In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I, Elizabeth of York: The Forgotten Tudor Queen and Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen presents a history of Britain in 25 royal births, revealing the long and fascinating history of royal childbirth.
Licence places each royal baby in the context of his or her times, including a wealth of information from centuries of childbirth guides, revealing whether each expectant mother followed the advice of their day or made controversial choices in the delivery room. Numerous queens consort found it difficult to balance their duties as royal wives with motherhood. Edward IV’s consort, Elizabeth Woodville may have breastfed the future Edward V because she was confined to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey during the Wars of the Roses but numerous other Queens employed wet nurses, allowing them to resume public life and have another child more quickly.
Until the 20th century, mortality for mothers and children was high and royal women and children succumbed to illness and infection. The survival of certain royal babies profiled in Licence’s book would have changed the course of history. Henry VIII’s eldest son with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon died at the age of ten weeks, beginning the King’s long quest for a male heir. George IV’s only child, Princess Charlotte, died giving birth to a stillborn son, George, which allowed for the eventual succession of her cousin as Queen Victoria. Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York and third wife, Jane Seymour died of what was described at the time as childbed fever.
Royal Babies is not only the story of 25 princes and princesses but of their parents, revealing changing trends in royal marriage as well as childbirth. While the eighteenth century monarchs from the House of Hanover made purely dynastic marriages with varying degrees of success, a surprising number of medieval monarchs made marriages based on physical attraction or shared interests as well as political advantage. Henry I “long desired” marriage to Edith of Scotland, who shared his cultural interests. Henry II and John were drawn to the beauty of their respective wives, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of Angouleme rather than their wealth alone. Edward III chose Philippa of Hainaut as his queen over her sisters because she wept when he left her father’s court. The thousand year range of Licence’s work reveals the full scope of how royal domestic life changed over time.
With only 25 royal babies profiled in the book, however, there are omissions that leave gaps in the narrative. While the Queen, Prince William and the newborn Prince George each receive a chapter, the birth of Prince Charles is not discussed. His absence is surprising as he was the first direct heir since the Glorious Revolution who was not born with a member of the government close at hand. Henry III and his Queen, Eleanor of Provence were known for their close attention to their children, yet none of their babies receive a chapter. As the main text of the book is only 164 pages long, the inclusion of a few more royal babies would have allowed for more seamless transitions from one royal delivery room to the next. There are also some factual and proofreading errors that suggest Royal Babies was rushed to press for the birth of Prince George.
Royal Babies is filled with fascinating details about royal births over the past thousand years, revealing the varied experiences of English and Scottish Queens in the delivery room. The arrival of Prince George this year in the same hospital where his father, Prince William was born in 1982 suggests that future royal births may follow an established pattern. In contrast to their predecessors, the wives of subsequent royal heirs may know exactly what to expect when they give birth to next generation of princes and princesses.by
I will be discussing Prince George of Cambridge as part of an online chat at canada.com on Wednesday, August 7 at 1pm ET.by
The next big event in the life of the newborn Prince George of Cambridge will be his christening. The ceremony will probably take place in September or early October, after Queen Elizabeth II returns from her summer holiday at Balmoral.The baby’s gown, the christening font and the location will follow tradition but the choice of godparents may reflect the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s personal preferences.
The newborn prince will wear a replica of the 172 year old Honiton lace and white satin gown designed for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest child, Princess Victoria in 1841. Royal babies from Princess Victoria to Lady Louise Windsor in 2004 wore the original gown before it was deemed too delicate for further use and a replica was created for subsequent christenings.
Prince George’s christening will also follow the precedent set by Queen Victoria by including the Lily font. From the Restoration in 1660 to the christening of the future Queen Victoria herself in 1819, the silver-gilt font and basin commissioned by Charles II was a fixture of royal christenings and continued to be in use as a secondary font for Victoria’s three eldest children. Victoria reputedly disliked the Restoration font because it had beenused for the christenings of her illegitimate cousins and Prince Albert designed the new “Lily Font” as the primary font for their children.
Since the reign of Queen Victoria most royal christenings have taken place at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. The private chapel at Buckingham Palace was damaged during the Blitz and both Prince Charles and Prince William were baptized in the Music Room, which has become a familiar setting for royal christenings. A number of nineteenth and twentieth century royal parents chose non-traditional venues for christenings.
The future Edward VIII was christened at White Lodge in Richmond Park in 1894 and Princess Eugenie of York became the first member of the royal family to receive a public christening as part of a regular service at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham in 1990. Due to Prince George’s place in the line of succession, his christening will probably take place in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, following the precedent set by his father and grandfather.
While the setting, gown and font for Prince George’s christening will follow tradition, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may personalize the ceremony through their choice of godparents. There has been speculation that Prince William, Prince Charles and the Queen may select all the godparents because there were no representatives of the Spencer family chosen as godparents to Prince William in 1982. William’s godparents were The Prince of Wales’ second cousins, Constantine II, King of the Hellenes and Norton Knatchbull, Baron Romsey, Prince Charles’s favourite author, Sir Laurens van der Post, the Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Westminster, and the Queen’s Woman of the Bedchamber, Lady Susan Hussey.
The exclusion of family or friends of the Princess of Wales from the list of William’s godparents actually broke with tradition as previous generations of royal babies had sponsors chosen by both their father and mother. Prince Charles’s own godparents included Queen Mary and the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, the surviving grandmothers of the future Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Uncle, Prince George of Greece and cousin, the former Lady Patricia Mountbatten were also godparents, in addition to Princess Margaret, King George VI, the honourable David Bowes-Lyon and King Haakon VII of Norway.
Just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed the involvement of Catherine’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, in the upbringing of their son, it is likely that they will select a godparent from the Middleton family in addition to royal cousins, such as Peter or Zara Phillips and mutual friends. The royal couple may also choose a godparents from the Duke of Cambridge’s numerous Spencer cousins, which include a George, an Alexander and a Louis. Where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may break with tradition is the selection of foreign royalty. While there may be a member of the Greek royal family chosen in honour of Prince Philip, it is unlikely that there will be same array of foreign royal godparents that were present at the christenings of previous generations of British royal babies.
The autumn christening of Prince George of Cambridge will follow traditions established by Queen Victoria. The baby Prince will wear a replica of the 1841 honiton lace robe and the Lily Font will be the centrepiece of the ceremony, which will probably take place in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may personalize there ceremony through their choice of godparents, selecting more Spencer and Middleton relatives and family friends and fewer members of Europe’s royal houses.by
My column in this Saturday’s Kingston Whig-Standard discusses the role of grandparents – royal and non-royal – in raising royal children. Prince George of Cambridge is currently spending time with his maternal grandparents, Michael and Carole Middleton, following a long tradition of royal babies developing close relationships with both sets of grandparents.by