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Looking back at the christening of Prince Charles

It was on 15 December 1948 that Prince Charles’s christening took place. Prince Charles of Edinburgh, as he was known at the time of his birth, had been born only four weeks and three days before his christening as the first child of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Not only was the infant Prince the King’s first grandchild, but he was also second-in-line to succeed King George VI.

The usual location for royal christenings at Buckingham Palace, the Private Chapel, had been damaged a few years before, during World War II, so instead the christening took place in the Music Room, and it was performed by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, who had also officiated at the wedding of Prince Charles’s parents in November 1947.

Prince Charles with his mother, then-Princess Elizabeth in December 1948. Photo: Nationaal Archief/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Not to be left behind on royal traditions, Prince Charles wore the famous Honiton Lace Gown. The gown had been created for the christening of Princess Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and it was used for nearly every royal christening after that. Other royal christening traditions used for the occasion were the Lily Font, designed by Prince Albert, and consecrated water brought from the River Jordan.
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The infant was named Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, honouring both his father and maternal grandfather.

His eight godparents were:

  • King George VI, his maternal grandfather.
  • Queen Mary, his maternal great-grandmother.
  • Princess Margaret, his maternal aunt.
  • The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, his paternal great-grandmother.
  • Baroness Brabourne, his cousin. Later known as Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
  • King Haakon VII of Norway, who was unable to attend and for whom the Earl of Athlone stood proxy.
  • Prince George of Greece and Denmark, his paternal great-uncle. Prince George didn’t attend the christening and was represented by the Duke of Edinburgh instead.

Following the christening ceremony, a reception for the family was held in the White Drawing Room.

An eight-minute video of the ceremony, where Prince Charles can be seen with members of his family and godparents who were present, can be viewed here.

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