On Wednesday afternoon, at a small London chapel within the confines of one of the London palaces, the world will be given its first snapshot of who really is who in the lives of Prince William and Kate Middleton, as they gather their friends together for the rather radical christening of their son, Prince George.
Kensington Palace is refusing to reveal the guest list on the orders of William and Kate, who are, as usual, determined to preserve as much privacy as possible for them, their son, and their guests. The couple is trying not to give out an ounce of information to the media about an occasion they view as totally unrelated to their public roles.
But what is clear is that the intimate gathering, at the Chapel Royal within the confines of St. James’s Palace, will feature only William and Kate’s most loyal friends. They will include the posh London nightclub promoter Guy Pelly; Alicia Fox-Pitt, the flame-haired old pal of Kate’s from school; Emilia d’Erlanger, another schoolfriend of Kate’s and a society interior decorator who helped Kate redecorate Kensington Palace; and Fergus Boyd and his wife, Sandrine, whose loyalty to William and Kate is unquestioned, as he shared the university house where Kate and William’s friendship developed into romance. Thomas Van Straubenzee, the Old Harrovian who this summer wed Lady Melissa “Missy” Percy, seems set to be there, as does James Meade, Wiliam’s best man, and at least one member of the Van Cutsem family—probably Hugh, whose daughter Grace was the flower girl who covered her ears on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the royal wedding.
The one exception, again unconfirmed, to the old friends’ rule may be Cressida Bonas. If she is indeed among the handpicked few to join Wednesday’s celebration, it will be seen as another clue that Prince Harry may indeed be moving closer to asking her to become his wife.
Much has been made of the fact that William and Kate have not invited William’s uncles and aunt—Andrew, Edward, and Anne—to attend, but in fact aunts have not attended the future heir’s christening before.
The real shock value of Georgie’s christening, to be performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the world’s Anglicans, is that unlike Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Will and Kate have invited friends rather than important foreign dignitaries to be godparents. And indeed, the fact that there is not a titled peer of the realm among those who are rumored to be named godparents by Kensington Palace on Wednesday, with the exception of Prince Harry, is a striking departure from royal norms.
Back in 1982, William’s godparents included the former King Constantine of Greece, Princess Alexandra (aka the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, a granddaughter of King George V), Natalia Grosvenor (aka the Duchess of Westminster, another royal relative), and Lady Susan Hussey (a lady in waiting to the queen). In other words, it was unthinkable for a godparent to a future king to be anything other than a titled member of the aristocracy.
William’s godparents will be blue bloods, to be sure, landowners and family friends of the royals such as the Van Cutsems, but not earls and princes named godparent for the sake of it.
But what is truly striking is the projected size of the gathering in the chapel, which holds special significance for William, as it is where his mother’s body lay at rest before her funeral. Just 60 people have been invited, and the guest list will prove a fascinating snapshot of the super-thin slice of upper-class society who really are inside the young royal couple’s circle of trust.