Princess Charlotte: what to expect from the christening of the royal baby
Kate Middleton and Prince William invite members of the public to Princess Charlotte's christening
Thousands of people are expected to turn out for Princess Charlotte's christening on Sunday, after Kate Middleton and Prince William invited members of the public to the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The service will be invitation-only, but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked for the paddock outside the church to be opened to the public on 5 July.
The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, Michael Middleton and Carole Middleton are expected to be in attendance, although Prince Harry is likely to be in Africa, where he is undertaking conservation and charity work.
A statement from Kensington Palace said: "While the service inside the church will be private, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be pleased to welcome well-wishers into the paddock outside the church.
"The Duke and Duchess are hugely grateful for the warm wishes they have received since Princess Charlotte's birth – many of them from local people in Norfolk – and are delighted the paddock can be opened on the day of the christening."
Here's what we know about Princess Charlotte's christening so far:
Where is it?
It was announced a few weeks ago that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will conduct the service at the St Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham, where the royal family normally attend a Christmas service every year on Christmas Day. Welby said he was "delighted" to be conducting the baptism, adding that it would be an "extraordinary honour and privilege to help welcome the princess into the family of the church". St Mary Magdalene Church is also where Princess Diana was christened in 1961 by The Right Reverend Percy Herbert. Royal correspondents had expected Princess Charlotte's christening to take place at the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace, where Prince George was baptised in 2013. Nevertheless, Princess Charlotte's ceremony is expected to have some other similarities to that of her brother, who will turn two-years-old next month. The Daily Mirror suggests the decision to hold the service in Norfolk reflects the fact that the family is "enjoying a country family life in their home Anmer Hall".
What happened at Prince George's christening?
The prince was also baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a private ceremony, with just 22 guests. The 45-minute ceremony included two hymns, two lessons read by Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry, and two anthems. The service was followed by tea at Clarence House, hosted by the Prince of Wales. Prince George, the third in line to the throne, wore a lace and satin gown first worn by Queen Victoria's daughter in 1841 and had no fewer than seven godparents: Prince William's cousin Zara Tindall and six friends Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel and William van Cutsem.
Who will be Princess Charlotte's godparents?
The Duke's cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have been touted as potential godmothers to Princess Charlotte. Zara Tindall's brother Peter Phillips and Kate Middleton's sister Pippa have also been suggested as possibilities. The Sunday Times says two of the couple's closest friends, James Meade and Thomas van Straubenzee, are believed to be "among several of the couple's inner circle who have been asked to be godparents". Both men were school friends of Prince William, were ushers at the duke and duchess's wedding in 2011 and delivered a joint speech at the wedding reception.
Will there be pictures?
If you can't get a glimpse of Princess Charlotte in real life, photographs of the whole royal family are expected to be released after the christening.
The first photographs of Prince George and Princess Charlotte were released earlier this month. Four photographs, taken by Kate Middleton in mid-May, showed Princess Charlotte in the arms of her brother. In one picture, the prince appears to be kissing his sister on the head. BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the photographs provided "a rare glimpse of, as things stand, the future of the British monarchy". He added that such glimpses will remain "reasonably rare" as the royal children grow up.
Prince Charles has apparently revealed that his granddaughter, who was born on 2 May in the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, is already sleeping "through the night". He was said to be chatting about Princess Charlotte as he hosted a Clarence House tea party for pilots and aircrew who fought in the Second World War. Geoff Bradley, who was invited alongside his father-in-law, Owen Burns, a 99-year-old former gunner in Bristol Blenheim bombers, said: "We were talking about grandchildren – he was saying Princess Charlotte does sleep through the night and it was much easier on mum than Prince George."
Princess Charlotte's future (according to astrologers)
The UK is still buzzing with news of the second royal baby, Princess Charlotte, but there are also some bizarre conspiracy theories and prophecies emerging.
The royal baby might be just ten days old, but her future has already been mapped out by astrologers across the world.
Her birth date and time has been studied, rising signs and astrological houses have been calculated and every detail of her future, from her appearance to love life, has been forecast.
"What's written in the stars for Princess Charlotte?" asks the Daily Express. A rebellious streak if the fortune-tellers are to be believed.
Astrologer Russell Grant thinks Charlotte will share aspects of Princess Diana's personality, not least an innate dislike of authority. She will be "a handful", he says, but it will be easier for her to settle into the confines of royal protocol than Diana because she is born into it.
The Express's astrologer Lori Reid predicts Princess Charlotte will "love cuddles", and says her rising sign – Cancer – means she will have a "soft roundedness" to her appearance.
"Not only is she blessed with charm but, with the Moon linked to Venus, she will grow into a stunning beauty. As long as they are cosy and comfortable and well-fed, Taureans are happy," she says.
In a 9,000-word analysis, Astrotheme says Charlotte will have a taste for "short trips", but will not be content with "noisy and flashy" things. With Neptune as one of her three dominant planets, the Princess may even have an "extreme sensibility" that turns her into a psychic or a clairvoyant, says the site. It also predicts that she will be so romantic and dreamy, that she is "in love practically all the time".
Astrologers are not the only ones theorising about the new royal. Here are six other bizarre prophecies and conspiracy theories to emerge about Kate Middleton's pregnancy and Princess Charlotte:
The ginger gene
Dozens of red-haired royal fans are convinced that Princess Charlotte is ginger and that is why her head was wrapped in a bonnet during her first public appearance. Numerous people made the claim on Twitter, confident that the new royal baby takes after her uncle Harry. "They covered her head. She's ginger," announced one. "Is Princess Charlotte the newest ginger on the block?" asked another. "Welcome to the ranks if that little tuft of hair is anything to go by! Our kind rock!"
Future of hankies
Several mediums incorrectly predicted the new baby's name and date of birth, but this hasn't stopped other psychics confidently forecasting Princess Charlotte's future. Psychic Sally Morgan, who once worked with Princess Diana, says the new princess will be vocal and tenacious and will "ruffle feathers" when she is older. She will also fly helicopters and planes, love sailing boats, water, surfing and jet skiing – and may suffer from allergies. "She will have a very long life, and be very, very healthy, but she will have allergies, and will suffer from really bad hay fever," Morgan told Now magazine. "So you'll often see her with hankies, sneezing into a hanky or have a hanky close to hand."
False birth date
Pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda carried claims that it was "impossible" for Kate Middleton to look so good just after she had given birth. Therefore, she must have given birth a few days before she emerged from the Lindo Wing with Princess Charlotte. Several women speaking to the newspaper said the new royal baby looked "too big" for a newborn and that her face was too "smooth and pale". Some said the baby must be three days old, others said she must have been born up to ten days ago.
Other women quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda were convinced that Kate had not given birth at all. "It was a surrogate mother who gave birth but not her," said one. "Kate must have been wearing a fake belly showing to the people that she was pregnant. It is just not real to walk yourself several hours after birth and wave to the public in white dress." The sceptics claimed all new mothers want to sleep for several hours. "This is a fairy tale of a family of show offs," they said.
Possibly the strangest story to appear on the front page of a magazine was that Kate Middleton visited the US while she was pregnant in December to meet up with Princess Diana's secret daughter. The Globe claims the woman, Sarah, is now 33 and lives in New England. Stranger still, the magazine says Sarah was conceived after a rogue doctor stole one of Princess Diana's eggs (while testing her fertility before she married Prince Charles) and used it to impregnate his wife.
Tory by name
David Cameron will be pleased to know that if he is still Prime Minister at the next election he is likely to have the royal baby's seal of approval, after it was revealed that girls who are named Charlotte tend to vote for the Conservative party. Analysts at You Gov discovered that the princess is likely to be a Tory supporter after compiling a list of 130 of the most common British names and their voting habits. Observers were also quick to point out that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were wearing blue and yellow when they first presented the princess to the world after leaving the hospital. "The coalition colour scheme was purely coincidental, but this?" the Spectator says. "Perhaps a bit more subtle than simply naming her Princess Tori…"
Still given that Princess Charlotte and the rest of the royal family don't vote – they are required to preserve their political neutrality "so as not to embarrass the Queen" – the news is unlikely to alarm the Labour Party.
Princess Charlotte prepares for first audience with the Queen
Three-day-old Princess Charlotte is expected to meet her great-grandmother the Queen today in London.
The royal baby has spent her first nights at Kate Middleton and Prince William's London home, Kensington Palace, but will today expand her horizons.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Princess Charlotte is expected to meet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace before the Cambridges drive to Anmer Hall, their country home in Norfolk.
Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge finally ended the months of speculation about their second child's name, honouring William's parents – Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana – as well as his grandmother the Queen.
Royal gun salutes were fired across London in Hyde Park and the Tower of London.
Her Royal Highness the Princess of Cambridge is Queen Elizabeth's fifth great-grandchild and fourth in line to the throne, pushing Prince Harry into fifth place.
She will retain this position, even if her parents have another son, as princes can no longer take precedence over their older sisters under the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act.
One retail expert has already predicted that she will be worth around £150m a year to the economy, predominantly fuelling the fashion and beauty industry.
Bookmakers are said to be facing a £1m payout after Charlotte became one of the most heavily backed names last week. Their attentions have now turned to the Cambridges' choice in godparents.
Prince George has no less than seven godparents: Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel, William van Cutsem and Zara Tindall.
Prince William's cousin Princess Beatrice is currently the bookies' favourite to be godmother, while Hugh van Cutsem Jr is a favourite to be godfather. His daughter Grace is Prince William's goddaughter and was a bridesmaid at the royal wedding.
Royal baby named Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana
The royal baby has been named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, as William and Kate look to the recent history of both their families for inspiration.
Charlotte is the middle name of Kate Middleton's sister, Pippa, as well as the feminine form of Charles, the baby's grandfather. It is also the name of Prince William's cousin, Charlotte Spencer.
The new royal baby's middle names, Diana and Elizabeth, pay tribute to the Queen and to Diana, her late grandmother.
Her official title is Her Royal Highness the Princess of Cambridge, and she may also be known as the Princess Royal when Prince William ascends to the throne. That title, currently used by Princess Anne, is traditionally granted to the monarch's oldest daughter.
According to the BBC, Charlotte "has a long royal pedigree and became popular in the 18th century when it was the name of George III's queen. ... Charles is the name of two former Kings and of the Prince of Wales, the princess's grandfather."
The Daily Mirror says that Princess Charlotte will share her name with another European Royal. "Charlotte Marie Pomeline Casiraghi, 29, is the second child of Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Princess of Monaco, and the late Stefano Casiraghi, an Italian industrialist," the paper reports".
Kensington Palace was coy when it came to attributing meaning or significance to any of the chosen names, saying that officials preferred to allow the names to speak for themselves.
Describing them as a "touching tribute", the Daily Mail said that it had been told by royal sources that "the couple simply liked the name – but admitted it was a 'happy coincidence' that both William's father and mother would live on in their grand-daughter."
Earlier today, the royal baby's arrival was marked with gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London.
It is believed that the princess, along with her brother, Prince George, will remain at Kensington Palace for the next few days, before they travel to Sandringham. The duke and duchess are planning to set up home with their family at Anmer Hall, which stands in the grounds of the estate.
The Georgian home, which was recently refurbished, is well placed for Prince William's job as an air-sea rescue helicopter pilot.