Well, the Royal Christening is almost upon us! [Unlike his birth, Georgie’s christening will take place right on time. No waiting for you, the hard-core, sidewalk-waiting fans. You deserve a break! A few sources have indicated that the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge have opted for a much less opulent christening ceremony that the “British Royal standard.”
So, in order to help us gauge the informality of Prince George’s anointing with holy water, let’s hop in the Ko-ko-koshnik Time Machine and watch some christenings past. Keep an eye out for the difference between the English, Swedish, Danish and Spanish ceremonies.
the Montage of the Brits who Were Alive for Video Footage
I find that clip is interesting as it’s narrator-free. (Thus no threat to my job!) In the silent portion we have a (grainy) view of the future Queen Elizabeth’s christening, We sequentially move through heirs to the throne, Charles, then Wils, Harry–just for fun ‘cos he’s so fun– and a teaser-trailer of folks lining the streets to watch little George’s christening procession tomorrow. It’s a shame that they only show the processions and official photo session.
Infanta Elena of Spain (with a cameo by the Generalísimo himself!)
It’s kind of a bummer that there isn’t more vintage footage like this one. The firstborn child of King Juan Carlos (then Principe de Asturias) was baptized into the Church at the Palacio de La Zarzuela by the Archbishop of Madrid. Did you recognize Doña Carmen (Generalísimo Franco’s wife) from the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara post? Given their ringside seats, it almost looks like the dictator and his wife are trying to muscle their way into a role in the baptism. Maybe it was just the camerawork, it just looks crowded in there. Her godparents were Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz, (King Alfonso XIII’s grandson) and Infanta Maria Cristina of Spain, her paternal great-aunt. (La Infanta Maria Christina, also known as the Countess of Marone, was the 4th child of King Alfonso XIII and “Ena” of Battenberg.)
Princess Estelle of Sweden
This adorable cherub wiggling in the Archbishop of Uppsala’s arms, future Queen of Sweden, was baptized on May 22, 2012 at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm. What caught my attention was that the Archbishop held the baby over the font. At all of the baptisms I’ve attended, the godparents held the baby before the big dunk. (No, they don’t really submerge the tot!) Estelle certainly had enough godparents to get the job done: (1) her maternal uncle, Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland, (2) King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (then Prince of Orange); (3) Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; (4) Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, and (5) her paternal aunt, Anna Westling Söderström. I especially like the red carpet-esque pause for the photographers before entering the Cathedral.
It has been mentioned that Princess Estelle’s christening was far more lavish than Princess Athena, daughter of Prince Joachim & his second wife, Princess Marie. The obvious reason would be that Estelle will be queen someday. This really makes me wonder about the “informality” that the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge mean to take. Prince George will be kind someday. Maybe it’s because Prince George is the great-grandson of the current monarch, not the grandson. (This also explains why Wills and Kate were allowed such an ‘informal’ wedding: officially it was not a state wedding as William was not the son of the ruling monarch. Sorry Chuck, we’re not trying to rub it in
Gettng back on topic, here’s the Princess Athena footage.
What do you think? Was Estelle’s shin-dig that much more lavish? (I’d ask you the same about William vs. Harry but we didn’t get the footage.)
Prince Vincent & Princess Josephine of Denmark
What’s more fun than twins? Exactly, nothing! Just to up the cute barometer, the royal twins’ older siblings toddle in front of Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary. The Danish Royal Christening took place on April 14, 2011 at the Church of Holmen. Unlike the Swedish christening, Princess Mary and Prince Frederik held the babies before the royal tikes got splashed in the forehead. [I’m beginning to think the holding godparents might be only a Roman Catholic thing.]
Prince Vincent’s godparents were (1) his maternal uncle, John Stuart Donaldson; (2) Felipe, the Prince of Asturias; (3) the Hereditary Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg; (4) Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille; (5) Baroness Helle Reedtz-Thott and (6) Caroline Heering. Princess Josephine’s godparents are (1) her paternal aunt, Princess Marie of Denmark; (2) Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro; (3) her maternal aunt, Patricia Bailey; (6) Count Bendt Wedell; (5) Birgitte Handwerk, and (6) Crown Princess Mary’s friend, Australian Josephine Rechner.
I didn’t really expect your to read that all, but think! Can you imagine the haul those kids are gonna rake in every birthday? A total of 12 brightly-colored envelopes containing a check for $17. Heh!
Infantas Leonor and Sofía of Spain
Continuing with our theory that heirs to the throne get the fanciest christenings. Let’s check out the daughters of Prince Felipe and Letizia, Infanta Leonor and Infanta Sofía. Both the King of Spain’s granddaughters were baptized in the same place as their Aunt Elena, the Palacio of Zarzuela. Let’s see if the first-born gets the fancier baptism.
Hmmm. Did you notice that Leonor’s godparents were King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía? That’s certainly a regal touch. It doesn’t quite hold a candle to the pomp & circumstance of the Swedish of Danish ceremonies. I love how they’re so informal in Spain. But having monarch godparents? That’s wild! Now, here’s Infanta Sofía.
I guess the most obvious difference in “rank” is the fact that Leonor was baptized inside while Sofía was baptized in the palace gardens, just like her Aunt Elena, also not the heir to the throne. Sofía’s godparents aren’t quite as august as her big sister’s either. Her godmother is Paloma Rocasolano (Letizia’s mom) and the Prince of Vidin. Anyone notice that in Spain one godmother and one godfather are considered sufficient? I appreciate that. (Or am I jealous of those 6 birthday cards a year? Who knows.)
To me, the biggest differences have little to do with heir to the throne versus just-a-royal-grandchild. I see cultural, perhaps religious variances. The Borbons, being Catholic, follow the tradition with which I was always familiar: the there-can-be-only-two-godparents-to-hold-the-baby practice. In Denmark, the parents do it and Sweden the officiant holds the little one and anoints the forehead.
My mind truly reels over the 6-godparents-apiece deal.I understand it’s an honor, a tip of the crown, so to speak. However did anyone notice them participating in the ritual. Were they just seated, enjoying their status and the up-front seating?
What do you, beloved readers, think? If you have no opinion, then who was the most well-behaved baby? Who took the water like a champ? Estelle, Athena, Leonor, Sofía, Josephine or Vincent?
- Who will Prince George’s godparents be? (telegraph.co.uk)