The christening of a prince
The christening of a prince

Royal family tradition: Prince William's first solo duty is being godfather

By Robert Hardman


LONDON - Britain's Prince William carried out his first major solo engagement yesterday when he became a godfather at a London christening teeming with monarchs-to-be and future heads of royal houses.

Unlike his seven fellow-godparents, he had the disadvantage of carrying his left arm in a sling and plaster cast after last weekend's operation on a broken finger. But he was able to remove the sling and cradle five-month-old Prince Konstantine Alexios of Greece in his arms for the traditional Greek Orthodox walk around the font.

The baby's parents, Crown Prince and Crown Princess Pavlos of Greece, had wanted this to be an event for the younger royal crowd, hence the absence of older faces apart from immediate family members.

"Prince William, together with other cousins of mine, has been chosen primarily for the reasons that they are from the younger generation of our extended family," said Crown Prince Pavlos, whose home is in New York, shortly before the christening at the Greek Cathedral of Saint Sophia in west London.

"I think William is a very good, upstanding young man who will be able to help my son when he reaches his age. It is a friendly gesture to keep the contact within the family. I feel very blessed by the kindness of the British family," said Crown Prince Pavlos, himself a godson of the Prince of Wales.

The Crown Prince's London-based father, King Constantine of Greece, is also a godfather to Prince William.

In becoming a godfather at 16, Prince William has followed his father, who was the same age when he stood at the font for the first time. And Prince Konstantine Alexios is likely to be the first of many. The Prince of Wales already has 32 godchildren.

While Prince Konstantine and his two-year-old sister, Maria-Olympia, posed with their parents on the steps, the main godparental detachment alighted from a hired coach. Out stepped the future rulers of Spain, Sweden, and Denmark: Prince Felipe of Asturias, Crown Princess Victoria, and Crown Prince Frederik.

On the throneless front, there was Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, a New York jewellery expert, and Princess Alexandra von Furstenburg, sister of Crown Princess Pavlos. Odd one out in this crowd was the eighth godparent, Mrs. Doris Robbs, an American friend of the Crown Princess.

Prince William arrived separately in a Land Rover, giving a shy wave to a crowd of Greek expatriates and teenage girls as he was greeted by King Constantine. Before him lay a huge international media contingent, including many from Greece.

Inside the 19th-Century cathedral, Prince William stood with the other godparents as the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain anointed the baby with oil and myrrh and immersed him three times in the font. Each godparent then walked the baby around the font. Afterwards, the godparents and the Greek royal family lined up on the steps where Prince William cast a fond eye on his new godson and discussed the baby's weight with the Crown Princess.

SOURCE: The Daily Telegraph, Friday 16 April 1999.
Compiled and formated by *giselle*, Sunday 27 June 1999.