Thursday, August 18, 2011

Prince John - ecumenical godparents

Embed from Getty Images 

 August 18, 1905

Prince John, the youngest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, will be "well cared for in a spiritual sense," writes the Marquise de Fontenoy in her latest dispatch.  His sponsors, who "pledged themselves at his baptism to look after his religious welfare," are members of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox church, the Lutheran, Presbyterian churches, and the Church of England. 

The "fat and jolly" King Carlos of Portugal is the Roman Catholic sponsor.  The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Greece are Greek Orthodox, although the Crown Princess was raised Lutheran.  She joined the Greek church after her marriage. 

The infant prince was baptized at Sandringham. The water used for the act of baptism "was that of the River Jordan, of which a stock is always kept at Windsor, Potsdam, and the imperial palace at Vienna."

During the service, the baby received three names, John Charles Francis.  The latter of these names is in honor of the Princess of Wales's father, "the kindly and popular" Duke Franz of Teck. John is said to be in honor of Queen Alexandra's uncle, old Prince Johann of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, "a great favorite" of the British royal family, and Charles is for the King of Portugal.

Neither John nor Charles are names that "figure auspiciously in English history.  Charles I and Charles II, as well as the old and young pretenders, were "particularly unfortunate" and the reign of the only King John is "distinctly sinister."

 Prince John was born on July 12, 1905, at York Cottage at Sandringham.  His baptism took place on August 3, 1905, at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene at Sandringham.  His godparents were the King of Portugal,  Prince Carl of Denmark, Prince Johann of Glücksburg, the Duke of Fife, and the Crown Prince of Greece, the Crown Princess of Greece, and Princess Alexander of Teck.

The Princess of Wales, with her children, Princes Edward, Albert, Henry, George, and Princess Mary of Wales, were present.  The Prince of Wales represented the godfathers and Princess Victoria represented the godmothers.  The only godparent who was able to attend was Crown Prince Constantine of the Hellenes. 

According to The Times, "rain had fallen heavily throughout the morning, but ceased for about half an hour before the ceremony began."  A large awning that been constructed over the pathway "leading from the park gate to the church door."

The chancel was decorated with flowers from the greenhouses at Sandringham.   The communion table was "decked with lilies of the valley and hollyhocks."  The gold christening font, "used at most Royal christenings" was used for this baptism. 

The ceremony began at 3 p.m.  Shortly before three, a brougham arrived from York Cottage with two nurses dressed in white, one of whom carried the infant Prince "dressed in white with a white bonnet." They were inside the church when the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived with Princess Victoria.  The Prince of Wales was accompanied by his cousin, the Crown Prince of Greece.

The Princess of Wales "was looking well," wearing a "cream-colored silk gown with blue trimmings, and a white toque."

Princess Victoria received the infant prince from his nurse and haded him to Canon Dalton, who performed the baptism.   The ceremony concluded with Stainer's "Sevenfold" Amen."   The infant Prince was then "carried round the church" so members of the congregation could see him.

After the service, members of the Royal Family returned to York Cottage.


Gary said...

Doesn't it somewhat defeat the purpose to have godparents from faiths other than the one in which the child is going to be raised? Isn't the point that the godparents will oversee his/her spiritual education, at least in the absence of the parents? (Not being Christian, I am not au courant on this topic, but that was my understanding.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

All are of the same faith, Christian, just different churches - and I would doubt that the royal godparents would play a role in the spiritual education of their godchildren -- more likely, just to send presents on birthdays - and attend the confirmation. The church of England and the Lutheran church allow for other Christian godparents, as long as one is a member of the church (as in CofE or Lutheran)