Even the future King of England can’t avoid hand-me-downs. Per royal tradition, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s firstborn was baptized Wednesday afternoon in a replica of a white Spitalfields silk-satin gown commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1841 for her eldest daughter’s christening. Its creator? Janet Sutherland, the daughter of a Scottish coal miner from Falkirk, who received the title of Embroiderer to the Queen for her efforts. Now safely tucked away in storage, the original garment, which was crafted to resemble the dress that Queen Victoria wore for her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, is the family heirloom to end all family heirlooms. Until 2004, when it became too fragile to use, the gown clad more than 30 blue-blooded babies, including Prince George’s forebears: Prince William, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Queen’s father—the Prince George’s namesake—King George VI.
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It was Queen Elizabeth herself who ordered the copy, which was used to baptize her grandson Viscount Severn in 2008. Handmade by the Queen’s couturier, Angela Kelly, and her team of dressmakers at Buckingham Palace, it features the same cap sleeves, Honiton lace overlay, and elaborate collar and bow as the genuine article.
The replica features the same long skirt and elaborate collar and bow as the genuine article.
“I am very proud to think an ordinary woman from a working-class background could have designed such a beautiful robe,” Sutherland’s great-great-great niece, Patricia Perry, told the The Sunday Times. “I look forward to seeing the replica on Prince George.”
Royal babies are usually baptized by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Lily Font, made by English silversmiths in 1841 and filled with water brought from the River Jordan, where Jesus was said to have been baptized.
[Via the Los Angeles Times]