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Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 10:25am
LONDON -- Prince George, the infant son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, will be christened Wednesday in an untraditionally small ceremony at St. James's Palace.
Only close friends and family will attend the event at the Chapel Royal. It's a distinct break from the larger ceremonies that his father and grandfather enjoyed at Buckingham Palace.
But being baptized into the church is more significant for George than for most. He is in line to become king, which would also make him the supreme governor of the Church of England.
Among the guests who will witness the occasion are his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip,as well as Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry.
Catherine's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, and siblings, James and Pippa Middleton, will also be present.
The royal baby will have seven godparents, among them Prince William's cousin Zara Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne, and friends of the couple from their school and university days.
The ceremony will be conducted at 2:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby.
In a short video posted on his website, Welby spoke of the significance of the baby prince's baptism, which will see him "join the family of the church," numbering almost 2 billion people around the world.
Welby said any christening was a moment for the parents to celebrate the birth of their child, royal or not.
"All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies," he said.
But Prince George's christening does carry an extra significance, he said.
"As a nation we are celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state. That's extraordinary. It gives you this sense of forward looking, of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness of history, and what a gift to have this new life and to look forward."
As with any other infant's baptism, Welby will mark the prince with the sign of the cross on his forehead and splash water on his head.
The 3-month-old boy has already made history. He's the first royal baby to be honored with a christening coin from the Royal Mint.
The design of the coins, produced by the Royal Mint in a range of sizes and materials, has been approved by his parents and Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Mint said.
The public can buy the keepsakes, which start at 13 pounds ($21) for the simplest type but rise to a whopping 50,000 pounds ($80,000) for a version containing a kilogram of gold.