LONDON – Dressed in a lace and satin gown designed in the 1840s, Britain’s 3-month-old future monarch, Prince George, was christened Wednesday with water from the River Jordan at a rare gathering of four generations of the royal family.
The occasion had historic overtones: the presence of Britain’s 87-year-old monarch and three future kings, Princes Charles, William and, of course, little George.
Queen Elizabeth II, usually the center of attention, quietly ceded the spotlight to her rosy-cheeked great-grandson, who seemed to wave at her when he arrived – an illusion created by his father, Prince William, playfully moving the infant’s arm.
The private affair at the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace was also attended by Prince Charles, next in line to the throne, and the queen’s 92-year-old husband, Prince Philip, who has shown remarkable stamina since returning to the public eye after a two-month convalescence following serious abdominal surgery.
All told, it was an exceptional day for a monarchy that seems to be basking in public affection since the 2011 wedding of William and Kate Middleton and the maturing of Prince Harry, who appears to have put his playboy days behind him.
George, who was born on July 22, wore a replica of a christening gown made with exquisite antique lace for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, and first used in 1841.
When William was christened in 1982, he wore the original gown – by then well over a century old – but the garment has become so fragile that a replica was made.
The infant, who will head the Church of England when he becomes king, was christened with water from the River Jordan by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.