18 May 2012

Flashback Friday: Royal Christening Gowns

We have two royal christenings in our near future, one in Denmark and one in Sweden. And while the ladies' fashion on display will offer us plenty to feast on, it’s the babies that will really be the fanciest dressed of all. Today, we'll take a look at some of the heirloom royal christening gowns in use today; if you'd like more christening reading material, you could relive the last big royal christening in Denmark, or take a look at some of the fashion worn by crown princesses at their children's christenings.

The christenings of (left to right): Queen Elizabeth, the Prince of Wales, Prince William, and Viscount Severn (in the new gown)
The most famous British christening gown, the one with the longest legacy, was commissioned by Queen Victoria for the 1841 christening of her first child. The materials used echo the materials used for Queen Victoria’s wedding gown: Spitalfields silk satin and Honiton lace. It was used by more than 60 royal babies before it was retired due to deteriorating condition. Queen Elizabeth commissioned a replica from her dresser, Angela Kelly, to use as a replacement. The last royal baby to use Queen Victoria’s model was Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex; her younger brother Viscount Severn was the first to use the new gown, in 2008.

L to R: The christening gown and the christenings of Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Christian, and the twins (Mary holds Josephine in the gown from Queen Ingrid, Frederik holds Vincent in the traditional gown)
Multiple heirloom christening robes have been used by the current crop of Danish royal children. The main gown with the most history was made in 1870 for the christening of the future King Christian X out of Brussels lace bought by his mother, Queen Louise. This gown was worn by Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik, and three of Frederik’s children among others. For the christening of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary’s twins in 2011, a second royal gown was unearthed. This one belonged to Queen Ingrid (mother of Queen Margrethe), and was made in 1940 but not worn until 2011. It was worn by Princess Josephine and is made of white cotton batiste. Prince Joachim's children have so far been dressed by designer Henrik Hviid for their christenings.

L to R: The christening gown and the christenings of Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander, and Princess Catharina-Amalia
Dutch royal babies have another heirloom of Brussels lace to wear for their christenings. It was a gift from King Willem III to his wife Queen Emma for their daughter Princess Wilhelmina’s 1880 baptism. It has since been used for several of Wilhelmina’s descendants (Queen Wilhelmina was Queen Beatrix's grandmother).

L to R: The christenings of King Harald, Crown Prince Haakon, and Princess Ingrid Alexandra
In Norway, royal babies are baptized wearing a robe that was handmade in 1920 by Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, Crown Princess Märtha of Norway’s mother and grandmother of the current king, Harald. The robe’s first wearer was Prince Georg of Denmark, one of Ingeborg’s grandchildren, and has since been worn by many Norwegian royal children. The names of the babies are sewn in to the gown.

L to R: The christenings of King Carl Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria
Sweden’s royal christening gown has been used since the 1906 baptism of Prince Gustaf Adolf. As in Norway, the outfit includes the embroidered names of many of its users.

L to R: The christenings of King Juan Carlos, Prince Felipe, and Infanta Leonor
Spain’s royal christening gown was first used for King Juan Carlos’ baptism in 1938. It has since been used by his children and grandchildren. 

Photos: Corbis/Life/Daylife/Hola·