On Monday, the entire British royal family came out to celebrate the christening of Prince Louis. The event came with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from a royal gathering, but it also came with more history than you may be aware of too. And that history begins with little Louis’s outfit.
According to a statement by Kensington Palace, Prince Louis wore the “Honiton christening gown,” otherwise known as the Royal Christening Robe, which is made of “fine Honiton lace lined with white satin.” The robe was made in 1841 for the christening of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal.
According to Town&Country, the inspiration for the gown’s design came from Queen Victoria’s wedding dress. In her personal journal, Queen Victoria wrote of her first grandchild’s christening that "Albert & I agreed that all had gone off beautifully & in a very dignified manner."
As Kensington Palace added, the original gown was then worn for all royal christenings, including the Queen, her children, and her grandchildren, until the youngest of her eight grandchildren, Lady Louise Windsor, the daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex's daughter, in 2004. In total, Town&Country reported, it was worn by 62 royal babies over more than 163 years. After each wear it was cleaned in spring water then stored in a dark room.
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However, the original gown could no longer be worn and in order to preserve it, a replica had to be made. So, her majesty commissioned her personal wardrobe advisor, Angela Kelly, to make a replica. James, Viscount Severn, Kensington explained, was the first member of the Royal Family to wear the replica gown in 2008. It was also worn by both Princess Charlotte and Prince George as well.
Of course, the gown isn’t the only part of the ceremony steeped in history. In the service, Kensington Palace explained, the Archbishop of Canterbury used the Lily Font, a silver baptismal bowl which was “commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840 after the birth of their first child, Victoria, Princess Royal.” It has since been used in nearly all royal christenings since then.