Prince Louis’ christening special
All eyes were on William and Kate’s bonny babe Louis as he made his sleepy way to his christening – oblivious to the pomp and tradition of the occasion
IT WAS only his second appearance in public – the first time the world had seen him since he made his debut on the steps of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital just hours after his birth on 23 April.
And hasn’t he grown into a bonny little boy? Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge, swathed in yards of silk and lace, snoozed peacefully in his doting mother’s arms in the sticky London heatwave, oblivious to the cameras whirring and clicking around him.
The Duchess of Cambridge was the picture of relaxed elegance, beaming as she carried her 11-week-old son towards the chapel at St James’s Palace for his baptism service.
Kate was wearing a white dress by Alexander McQueen – the designer she’s chosen for all three her children’s christenings – and walked her baby up to greet the Archbishop of Canterbury, a step behind Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.
Conspicuous by her absence was Queen Elizabeth (92), who opted out because she had a busy week ahead – there were the centenary celebrations of the Royal Air Force (RAF) the next day and the arrival of US president Donald Trump in Windsor three days after that.
Prince Philip, at 97, was always a “maybe” – he’s retired from public life and makes only the occasional appearance. Which meant Charles (69) and Camilla (70) were the most senior royals and therefore headed the procession.
William (36) held the hands of Prince George (4) and Princess Charlotte (3), both of whom were sensibly dressed for the weather respectively in shorts and a pretty smocked dress.
Ever the charmer, little Charlotte solemnly shook Archbishop Justin Welby’s hand as they entered the chapel. William then encouraged his shy eldest son to do the same before giving the prince an approving “well done”.
Behind the heirs came Harry (33) and Meghan (36). The Duke and Duchess of Sussex held hands and chatted quietly as they hung back from the crowd, with Meghan looking stylish in an understated olive green dress by Ralph Lauren.
Also on the guest list for the intimate ceremony were little Louis’ six godparents, and all of Kate’s family – including pregnant sister Pippa and her husband, James Matthews.
After a 40-minute ceremony, the royals and their loved ones trooped out of the chapel and set off for a quiet tea at Clarence House.
TWO BY TWO
The duke and duchess handpicked two hymns, two lessons and two anthems to celebrate their son’s special day.
The small congregation sang O Jesus, I Have Promised and Lord of All Hopefulness from the pews of the chapel.
Louis’ godparents were also involved in the ceremony, with lessons from St Mark 10:13-16 read by Kate’s cousin Lucy Middleton and Ephesians 3:14-19 read by William’s old friend Guy Pelly.
The ceremony also featured two anthems sung by The Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal: This Is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made, which was composed for Kate and William’s wedding, and Suo Gân, a traditional Welsh lullaby.
The original gown, made of fine Honiton lace lined with white satin, was worn by generations of royals – more than 60 blueblooded babes in all, including Charles, William, Harry and even the queen.
The last young royal to wear the garment before it was retired from public service was Lady Louise Windsor (14), daughter of the queen's youngest son, Prince Edward (54) and Sophie, Countess of Wessex (53), at her christening in 2004.
The queen then commissioned her dressmaker, Angela Kelly, to make a handmade lace and satin replica to preserve the original. The first tot to wear the new robe was Louise’s brother, James, Viscount Severn (now 10), in 2008. George was the second.
As Kate managed the baby, it was left to William to look after Louis’ siblings, Charlotte, in a floral dress with a matching blue Alice band and shoes, and George, in his signature shorts and Peter Pan-collared shirt.
LEFT: Louis in the christening robe that Charlotte and George wore. RIGHT: An illustration of the christening of Victoria, Princess Royal, in the original robe in 1841.