Let the countdown begin! In less than two days, Prince William and Kate Middleton will present their firstborn child, 3-month-old Prince George, to be christened in a private ceremony at St. James's Palace in London. Plans and preparations for the Oct. 23 event have been under way for some time now — and Us Weekly has new details on the who, what, where, when, and why.
As previously reported, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose the Chapel Royal for George's christening in part because of the intimacy it offers. It's also where the body of Prince William's late mother, Princess Diana, was kept for some time before her funeral in 1997.
"It's a special place for William," a source shares with Us. "Having the service there is his way of involving his mother, who he so wishes could be here for all of this."
No one else could ever take her place, of course, but other loved ones can and will be in attendance. Kensington Palace won't release a guest list until the day of the event, but "close members of both families" are expected — including, of course, George's great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, his grandfather Prince Charles, his uncle Prince Harry, and his maternal grandparents Carole and Michael Middleton, along with the Duchess' siblings, Pippa and James.
A source tells Us that the midwives who helped deliver the royal baby have also been invited. All told, the guest list includes fewer than 50 people.
The ceremony is expected to go on for 45 minutes, though the christening itself — conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby — will take only 25 minutes, with prayers and hymns sung by a choir. "They have to follow a pretty tight schedule," a source tells Us, "so if George is crying, the show must go on, as they say."
Afterward, family and friends will gather at Clarence House for a reception hosted by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. There, George's parents will present the top tier of their wedding cake, which they saved from their April 2011 nuptials. "It will just be a small champagne reception," a source tells Us.
For those not among the royal family's inner circle, portraits will be released on Thursday, Oct. 24. And well-wishers are encouraged to donate to charity in lieu of sending gifts.
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are incredibly grateful for the support and goodwill being expressed at this happy time. Their Royal Highnesses are grateful, too, for the many gifts they have already received," the palace says.
"To harness this extraordinary generosity of spirit, they suggest people might at this time look to support those more in need; perhaps a children's charity local to them," the palace continues. "Alternatively, you could look to support Imperial College Healthcare Charity, which is the charity of the hospital where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby was born."