Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Royal Focus: Royal Godparents

When Princess Charlotte is christened on Sunday July 5th, she will traditionally be given five or six godparents/sponsors. Prince William has paid tribute to his mother in his daughter's name, the church where his own mother was baptized and chosen Mario Testino, Diana's favorite photographer, to take the official photographs. Because William is choosing to underline the Diana connection so heavily, I think it is likely that he will also choose someone from the Spencer side of his family as one of Charlotte's godparents,  potentially one of Diana's sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale or Lady Jane Fellowes. This would be a unique choice as neither William, Harry or Prince George have a Spencer family member included amongst their godparents. From the Spencer side, it is interesting to note that each of Diana's siblings have a royal godparent - except for her!

At one point godparents were drawn heavily from members of the immediate and extended royal family. Over time the emphasis has shifted to godparents with loyal connections rather than royal family ties. For instance, unlike his grandfather Prince Charles, who had five royal godparents,  Prince George only has one with a royal connection, Zara Phillips.

The Queen and Princess Margaret

The Queen's godparents were comprised entirely of family members and included her paternal grandparents King George V and Queen Mary, her maternal grandfather, the Earl of Strathmore, her aunts Princess Mary (later Princess Royal), Lady Elphinstone and her great-great uncle Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught.

Princess Elizabeth christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Princess Margaret's godparents were her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales, Princess Ingrid of Sweden (later Queen of Denmark) and Princess Victoria, favorite sister of King George V. The maternal side of her family was represented by her mother's siblings, Lady Rose Levenson-Gower and the Honorable David Bowes-Lyon.

The Queen's children

Prince Charles' godparents were his grandfather, King George VI, his maternal great-grandmother, Queen Mary, his paternal great-grandmother, Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven, David Bowes-Lyon, Lady Brabourne, King Haakon of Norway and Prince George of Greece.

Prince Charles christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Princess Anne's godparents were, from the maternal side: her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and The Rev and Hon. Andrew Elphinstone (son of Lady Elphinstone, godmother of the Queen). Her paternal godparents were her grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece, aunt Princess Margarita and great-uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Princess Anne christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Prince Andrew's godparents were his great-uncle Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, Lord Elphinstone, the Earl of Euston and Mr. Harold Phillips.

Prince Edward's godparents were Prince Richard of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, his uncle by marriage, the Earl of Snowdon, Princess George of Hanover and Prince Louis of Hesse.

The Queen's grandchildren

Interesting to note that, unlike previous generations of royal children, none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren have the Queen or Prince Philip as a godparent. Previous monarchs, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, King George V, Queen Mary, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth all served as godparents to various grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Peter Phillips godparents were his uncle, the Prince of Wales, the Rt. Rev Geoffrey Tiarks, Captain Hamish Lochare, Lady Cecil Cameron of Lochiel and Mrs. Timothy Holderness-Roddam.

Zara Phillips's godparents were her uncle the Duke of York, the Countess of Litchfield, Mrs. Jackie Steward, Colonel Andrew Parker-Bowles (first husband of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall), and Mr. Hugh Thomas.

Prince William's godparents were ex-King Constantine of Greece, Lord Romsey, Sir Laurens van der Post, Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Westminster and Lady Susan Hussey.

Prince William christening photograph
Royal Collection website

Prince Harry's godparents were his uncle, the Duke of York, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Lady Vestey, Mrs. William Bartholomew, Mr. Bryan Organ and Mr. Gerald Ward.

Princess Beatrice's godparents were Viscount Linley, Peter Palumbo, the Duchess of Roxburghe, Mrs. Harry Cotterell and Mrs John Greenall.

Princess Eugenie's godparents were James Ogilvy, Captain Alistair Ross, Mrs Ronald Ferguson, Mrs Patrick Dodd-Noble and Miss Louise Blacker.

Lady Louise Windsor's godparents include: Lady Sarah Chatto (nee Armstrong Jones), Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Lady Alexandra Etherington, Mrs Francesca Schwarzenbach and Mr Rupert Elliott.

James, Viscount Severn's godparents were Denise Poulton, Jeanye Irwin, Alastair Bruce, 5th Baron Aberdare, Duncan Bullivant, and Tom Hill.

The Queen's great-grandchildren

Despite their royal connections, the parents of Savannah and Isla Phillips and Mia Tindall have not announced the godparents for their own children.

However, we do know the ones for Prince George: Oliver Baker, Emilia Jardine-Paterson, Earl Grosvenor, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Julia Samuel, William van Cutsem and Zara Tindall.

Prince George on his christening day with his parents and great-grandmother
British Monarchy Flickr

It will be interesting to see who William and Catherine choose to be godparents for Princess Charlotte. Will her parents honor a Spencer family member? We shall find out soon enough!

UPDATE: Princess Charlotte has five godparents (two fewer than George). They are: Miss Sophie Carter, Mr. James Meade, Mr. Alan Middleton, Mr. Thomas van Straubenzee, and from the Spencer side, The Hon. Laura Fellowes. I guessed Lady Jane but William and Kate chose her daughter instead!

© Marilyn Braun 2015

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


The Royal Encyclopedia by Ronald Alllison and Sarah Riddell
Princess Margaret by Theo Aronson
Official site for the British Monarchy
British Monarchy Flickr
The Royal Collection website

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