Special Day at Sandringham
- Credit: PA
People all over the world got a glimpse of Norfolk this month as a baby princess was christened at Sandringham, writes Rowan Mantell.
Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was just days old when her parents brought her home to Norfolk. Now, already blessed with a Norfolk childhood ahead, she was christened in the lovely church of St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, on July 5.
It is the church the Royal Family attend every Christmas, and also the church where her grandmother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was christened.
Two-month-old Princess Charlotte, her brother Prince George, who celebrated his second birthday this month, and their parents Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, are settling in at Anmer Hall on the Sandringham estate.
Prince George, like many members of the Royal Family, was christened at Buckingham Palace, but Princess Charlotte had a country christening at Sandringham. She was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, with thousands of well-wishers gathered on the green opposite the estate church, hoping to catch a glimpse of the baby princess. More lined the path leading across the royal estate from Sandringham House.
Back in August 1961, Diana was christened in the 16th century church on the royal estate - and the dress she wore is now one of the stars of the costume and textile collection held by Norfolk Museums Service, which has one of the finest collections of christening clothing in the country. Diana was born at Park House, Sandringham, youngest daughter of Viscount Althorp, and granddaughter to Earl Spencer of Althorp. But she did not wear the traditional Spencer christening gown, instead the baby destined to be a princess was baptised in a borrowed dress. The 200-year-old long cotton lawn dress, with exquisitely embroidered floral panels, was originally made for a Norfolk family with links to the Spencers, and lent to an exhibition at Althorp. The Earl wrote to the owner: “My daughter-in-law preferred it to the family robe, in which we were all christened, so I allowed her to put it on the baby and it certainly looked very pretty.”
The dress was eventually donated to the Norfolk Museum Service, with suggestions of a royal connection, but it was not confirmed as Diana’s christening gown until 1999.
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