By George ... echoes of royal past on day of celebration

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their son, Prince George in the garden of the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their son, Prince George in the garden of the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
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IT IS a moment that is being eagerly anticipated by Royal watchers across the globe – but one which only a handful of guests will be privileged to witness.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s three-month-old son, George, will be christened at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace tomorrow in a ceremony at which there is expected to be a gathering of fewer than 60 people.

While the service will attract worldwide headlines and interest from a host of international media organisations, it will have an added resonance in Yorkshire as it mirrors a previous Royal baptism which took place 90 years ago.

But unlike the intimate service which will take place in London tomorrow, the christening of King George V’s first grandchild, George Lascelles, was a very Yorkshire affair.

The ceremony took place in a church near to the North Yorkshire home of the King’s daughter, Princess Mary, on March 25, 1923, and gave the Royal family the chance to enjoy a private moment away from the world’s media.

Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough, proved to be a welcome retreat for both the Princess and her husband, Viscount Henry Charles George Lascelles – who was to later become the sixth Earl of Harewood – in the 1920s.

And their first son’s christening at St Mary’s Church in the village of Goldsborough was a momentous occasion as it was attended by both King George and Queen Mary.

Goldsborough Hall’s current owners, Mark and Clare Oglesby, are now giving guests the chance to re-live the historic moment by offering them a taste of the Royal christening at the Grade II* listed property.

Afternoon teas themed around the historic occasion are being offered to visitors to transport them back to the bygone era.

Mr Oglesby said: “Goldsborough Hall has a long history entwined with the Royal family, and that is something we are immensely proud of. Princess Mary always said that she was truly happy while she was living here, as it gave her the chance to escape from all the attention she received when she was down in London.

“Other members of the Royal family often visited, as it gave them an opportunity to relax in very private surroundings. But the christening that took place 90 years ago was nonetheless a very special occasion.

“There are many similarities to what is happening tomorrow, as this was also their first baby who was also called George.

“But there is obviously the big difference that this was very much an occasion that was marked in Yorkshire rather than in the heart of London.”

King George’s only daughter, who was dubbed the Yorkshire Princess, married her husband on February 28, 1922, at Westminster Abbey.

The Princess Royal, who was the Queen’s aunt, continued her strong links with Yorkshire up until her death.

She suffered a fatal heart attack in 1965 at the age of 67 while walking with her elder son, Lord Harewood, and his children on the Harewood House estate. She was buried at the West Yorkshire stately home after a private family funeral at York Minster.

While Goldsborough Hall proved to be a welcome sanctuary for the Royal family throughout the 1920s, the lure of its intimate surroundings has continued into the 21st century.

Mr and Mrs Oglesby, who are both aged 42 and have two daughters, Lucy, 18, and Charlotte, seven, bought the 17th century property in 2005 and carried out extensive renovations costing £2m after the hall had stood empty for two years.

The couple financed the purchase through the sale of Mr Oglesby’s telecommunications business, which was bought by an American firm.

They have since opened the hall up as an exclusive place to stay with guests including current members of the Royal family as well as former Prime Ministers, Premiership footballers and pop stars, although Mr Oglesby declined to confirm the exact identities. Rooms cost up to £600 for a night, and guests can also book weddings, dinner or afternoon tea.

More details of tomorrow’s hugely anticipated Royal christening are will be announced today when Kensington Palace is due to confirm the official photographer who will take pictures of William and Kate and their son after the private service.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are expected to attend the ceremony along with the Prince of Wales, who has become a grandfather for the first time, and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The exact guest list and the details of the service will not be disclosed until tomorrow, although a spokesman for Kensington Palace told the Yorkshire Post yesterday it will be a “small and intimate affair”.