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A look at Sweden’s royal christening gown

All big royal events have symbolism attached to them, and when Princess Adrienne of Sweden is baptised, on June 8th, 2018 at the Royal Chapel at Drottningholm Palace, she will find herself wrapped in one of her family’s best-known traditions. The little royal, youngest child of Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill, will be christened wearing the gown that has been used by Bernadotte babies for over a century.

Adrienne, who was born on March 9th this year at Danderyd Hospital, is the latest in a long line of Swedish princes and princesses to be baptised in the outfit. In recent years her big sister, Princess Leonore, and older brother, Prince Nicolas, have worn it as have her cousins – Princess Estelle, Prince Oscar, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.

The gown itself is relatively simple. Like many a christening dress, it is made of light, crisp cotton batiste and covered in Valenciennes, a popular type of bobbin lace. It has small cap sleeves, trimmed with more lace. It’s also quite small as royal babies are usually christened within a few months of their birth – most noticeably, in recent times, when five-month-old Prince Alexander was baptised in 2016 the back of the gown was open in places to allow him to move properly.

Prince Gustaf Adolf’s baptismal dress from 1906. Photo: Håkan Lind, royalcourt.se, Sweden

The gown was first used in 1906 at the christening of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s grandfather, Prince Gustaf Adolf, who was baptised on June 15th, 1906 in the White Sea Room at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. The same robe was worn by Gustaf Adolf’s children – Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard, Ingrid, Bertil and Carl Johan over the next few years – as the gown became an integral part of royal christenings.

Prince Gustaf Adolf and his wife, Princess Sybilla, started a new tradition when their first child, Princess Margaretha, was christened in the gown. They added a cream coloured cape for their little girl to wear (she was an autumn baby, arriving on October 31st, 1935) and since then it’s become traditional for the names of royal babies to be embroidered inside this part of the outfit following their christening.

Adrienne’s name, with her date of birth, will join that growing list on June 8th this year as Sweden’s littlest princess becomes the latest royal to continue a tradition filled with charm.

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