British royals prepare for Princess Charlotte christening

British royals prepare for Princess Charlotte christening
PHOTO: AFP / Kensington Palace

LONDON - Britain's royal family was gearing up Saturday for the christening of Princess Charlotte, when the public will have their second chance to glimpse the baby daughter of Prince William and his wife Kate.

The two-month-old will be christened Sunday in a low-key ceremony in a church on her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II's country estate of Sandringham in Norfolk, eastern England.

The Church of St Mary Magdalene is also a short walk from Anmer Hall, the secluded mansion to which William and Kate have relocated to bring up their children away from the glare of the media.

Guests at the christening will include the 89-year-old queen and her husband Prince Philip, William's father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, plus Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton.

William and Kate's first child, Prince George, who has his second birthday on July 22, will also be present to see his sister being christened with water flown in from the River Jordan.

But William's brother Prince Harry will not be present as he is on a three-month trip to Africa working on conservation projects.

While the ceremony, conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is private, members of the public will be allowed to stand outside the church to see the royals going in and out.

This will be the second time the public will catch a glimpse of the new princess after she appeared with her parents on the steps of St Mary's Hospital in London after her birth on May 2.

A royal spokesman said William and Kate were "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 (from which the public will follow events) can be opened on the day of the christening." The christening will have several links to William's late mother, Diana, princess of Wales, who died aged 36 in a Paris car crash in 1997.

Charlotte's middle names are Elizabeth and Diana, while the 16th century church is the same one where Diana, who grew up nearby, was christened.

The photographs of the christening will be taken by celebrity photographer Mario Testino, who was close to Diana and took some of the most famous shots of her in 1997, months before her death.

Testino also took William and Kate's engagement photographs.

The christening party is reportedly set to celebrate with tea hosted by the queen at Sandringham afterwards.

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