DRESSED IN intricate lace and satin gown and arriving in a vintage pram formerly used by The Queen for two of her children, Princess Charlotte was welcomed by thousands of well-wishers before being christened in a private ceremony today.
Afforded an insight into the event, around 3,500 members of the public, some of whom had camped out overnight to secure prime positions, were thought to have gathered for the celebratory occasion at Church of St Mary Magdalene in Norfolk.
It was the first public outing for the Cambridges as a family of four and they arrived at the 16th century venue on foot having strolled the short distance from Sandringham House. Prince George, who is nearly two, held the Duke’s hand, while the Duchess, who wore an ivory Alexander McQueen outfit with Jane Taylor hat, brought Charlotte in the pram.
They were joined for the service by the Princess’ great-grandparents the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, grandparents the Prince of Wales and Carole and Michael Middleton, step-grandmother the Duchess of Cornwall, Kate’s siblings Pippa and James Middleton and Charlotte’s five godparents.
One of the onlookers outside the church was Laurie Spencer, 52, from Florida, who had given up a 1,200 US dollar British Grand Prix ticket to attend the christening.
She said: “When I found out the christening was happening while we were here I knew I just had to be there, but there was no way my husband was. We were having dinner last night and somebody on the next table heard us talking and asked if he could have my ticket instead, so they have gone to the Grand Prix and I have come here.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby performed the baptism using the ornate silver gilt Lily Font which is part of the Crown Jewels. Specially commissioned by Queen Victoria, the font was made in 1840 for the christening of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, the following year.
The service lasted just over half an hour, during which Charlotte, who wore a replica of the gown made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal, in 1841, was christened using holy water from the River Jordan, where it is said Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.
Just 21 guests were among the congregation including the Princess’s five godparents who are Diana, Princess of Wales’ niece and William’s cousin the Hon Laura Fellowes; Kate’s cousin Adam Middleton and long-term confidante Sophie Carter; William’s Eton school friend James Meade; and one of his best friends since childhood Thomas van Straubenzee.
They joined in singing the two hymns - Praise to the Lord, The Almighty and Come Down, O Love Divine - while godfather Mr Meade read the lesson from Matthew 18, verses 1-5.
The Sandringham Church Choir performed two anthems.
Processional organ music - Vaughan Williams’ Prelude on Rhosymedre - which was played at William and Kate’s wedding sounded out at the start of the traditional ceremony.
When the service was all over the guests made their way to Sandringham House for tea hosted by William and Kate, when they will be served slices of christening cake, taken from a tier of their wedding cake.