LONDON — Prince George, heir to the British throne, was christened Wednesday in a private ceremony attended by four generations of the royal family and a small group of family and friends.
The short private service for the 3-month-old prince was conducted in the 16th century St. James’s Palace chapel by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury.
Queen Elizabeth II, looking like a delighted great-grandmother, was smiling and wearing a light blue ensemble with a wide-brimmed blue hat. She was accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip. Also in attendance were the young prince’s grandfather, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.
George’s father, Prince William, proudly carried the placid-looking baby when the royal family arrived, a duty the mother, Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, took over as the party left after the ceremony about half an hour later.
The baby prince wore a hand-sewn replica of a historic christening gown first worn by the daughter of Queen Victoria in 1841.
The royal convoy of black limousines was cheered by hundreds lining the route between Kensington Palace, the young couple’s London home, and St. James’s Palace. Several had spent a rainy night in nearby streets to catch a fleeting glimpse of the royal entourage and the new prince.
Shielded from the eyes of the press and public, only a small group of family and friends attended the baptism of George Alexander Louis.
Details of the ceremony released by Kensington Palace included hymns and readings — one passage read by Prince Harry — and all the personal choice of the young duke and duchess of Cambridge.
In a departure from the normal custom of christening royal heirs in the music room of the queen’s nearby residence, Buckingham Palace, where both William and his father, Prince Charles, were baptized, the choice of St. James’s chapel was reportedly a personal choice of the baby’s parents.
The wood-paneled chapel inside the palace that was home to Henry VIII and succeeding monarchs for the next 300 years, has poignant memories for William, it was where the coffin of his mother, Princess Diana, lay after her sudden death in a road accident in Paris in 1997.
Among Prince George’s seven godparents were Zara Tindall, daughter of the queen’s second child, Princess Anne. Tindall was the only royal family godparent. The other six were friends and aides to William and Catherine.
Catherine’s parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, and Catherine’s sister Pippa and brother James also attended the service and a small gathering afterward in Clarence House, the London home of Charles and Camilla.
Official photos were taken by Jason Bell, not a customary royal photographer but a well-known portrait photographer with work exhibited in galleries and published in Vogue and Vanity Fair. They will be released Thursday. The last photo of four generations of the royal family together was taken in 1899 showing Queen Victoria with her descendants.