Three generations of future British kings were to gather yesterday for the low-key christening of Prince George, the son of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Current monarch Queen Elizabeth II was also scheduled to attend the third-in-line prince’s baptism, where she was to be joined by heir apparent Prince Charles and second-in-line William.
However, the ceremony at the Chapel Royal in London’s St James’s Palace will be hidden from the world’s media.
Royal officials have said that only “close members of both families” will attend the baptism, reflecting William and Catherine’s wish to keep their son out of the spotlight.
The service will be conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the world’s Anglicans, who called it “the next hugely important moment” in the young prince’s life.
“A few months ago millions of people around the world celebrated the birth of Prince George,” he said in a YouTube message released by his Lambeth Palace office on Tuesday. “Now we’re celebrating the next hugely important moment, which is his christening.”
A Church of England christening involves a new baby having holy water poured on its head — the baby is not fully immersed.
George — who is a future Supreme Governor of the Church of England and “Defender of the Faith” — was born on July 22.
Celebrity photographer Jason Bell has been given sole responsibility for the official pictures.
The award-winning photographer was to take the shots at Clarence House, the home of William’s father, Prince Charles, following the service. The pictures are expected to gain iconic status, showing four generations of monarchs together.
The last time such a photograph was taken was in 1894 at the christening of the future monarch, King Edward VIII, showing the infant with his father, later King George V; grandfather, the future King Edward VII; and great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
George has been shielded from the type of press attention that William blames for the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in car crash in Paris being followed by paparazzi. The baby’s only public appearance has been with his parents as he left the hospital where he was born.