This might be the world’s most glamorous double-christening.
Monaco’s little royal twins Gabriella Thérése Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier Grimaldi were perfect in white as they took their first live-streamed bow – as their christening was captured for the world online Sunday at the Cathedral de Monaco.
The five-month-old twins – she, older by two minutes – helped usher the Principality of Monaco into a new era.
Jacques, carried into church by his mother Princess Charlene, arrived wide awake and playful while Gabriella was sleepy but soon woke to the moment as the world’s second smallest country celebrated the baptism of its twin heirs with a mix of stylish religious and public ceremonies.
Charlene who has been working on designs since shortly after the children’s birth, personally oversaw details of the ceremony, sources say, from consulting on texts in the service to choosing the materials and selecting the embroidery designs of her children’s christening gowns.
The princess herself looked radiant in an outfit by Dior Haute Couture. Her fitted skirt and jacket combination was accessorized with a bibi hat and knitted gloves.
Over 700 guests and members of the public filled the cathedral, with several hundred more outside, who followed the ceremony on giant screens in the Palace square. The mood was festive, with blue and pink balloons flying and members of the public carrying flags representing Monaco, France, South Africa (Charlene’s home county) and the United States (as a nod to Albert’s American mother, the late Grace Kelly).
The religious ceremony holds additional importance in Monaco where Catholicism is the state religion. Conducted by Archbishop Bernard Barsi and assisted by Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, the Papal Envoy to Monaco, the ceremony was performed in the presence of attending bishops from both nearby Nice and Ventimiglia-San Remo in the cathedral, which has been decorated with flowers since Friday afternoon.
Sunday morning’s ceremony began with an organ prelude composed by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault and following an opening prayer, the ceremony added to its sense of family with a reading from the first letter of Saint John, read by Princess Caroline’s oldest son, Andrea Casiraghi (who welcomed his second child, India, in April). Casiraghi was joined by his mother, his wife Tatiana Santo Domingo and his aunt Princess Stephanie, as well as her three children. Casiraghi’s sister, Charlotte, was not present.
Tradition states that the boy be baptised first and during the successive baptisms, both children were surprisingly awake – a benefit for television cameras fitted into the cathedral ceiling.
And neither – for the record – cried.
Afterwards, Jacques nodded while Gabriella, held by Prince Albert, seemed to follow the ceremony, enjoying the music which included Fauré’s “In Prayer” and a Vivaldi organ concerto.
After posing for a trio of official portraits, the children were turned over to their nannies who sheltered them inside the cathedral from the noise of both 21-gun salutes fired off in their honor.
Many of the ceremony’s details had Princess Charlene’s handprint. She converted to Catholicism before her 2011 wedding to Albert. According to sources, the princess “has been deeply engaged and consulted on which texts to read, music and the ceremony decoration.” She also attended a walk-through rehearsal Saturday afternoon with the children’s four godparents.
The young prince and princesses’s outfits were a special handmade design by Baby Dior. Their light cotton veil gowns and bonnets featured fine pleating, Calais lace trimming and plant-inspired embroidery. The christening gowns were also adorned with each child’s respective monogram, and further distinguishing them, each wore a personalized pink or blue ribboned pacifiers.
Following the ceremony, a large number of Monaco’s 36,000 residents lined the route from the cathedral, packing into the Place de Palais where the family’s religious ceremony became a very public celebration. The royal couple set off on foot while arm-in-arm, demonstrating a complicity which the larger public hasn’t previously seen.
“Very cool together,” said one attendee. “Together, they lose their reserve and share a lot of humor.”
Looking relaxed, Princess Charlene showed confidence and star power, walking through the crowd with an effortless smile. Shaking hundreds of hands, occasionally calling ‘Hi! Hi!’ to friends.
The festivities, concluded with a garden party luncheon for 400 – planned by Charlene – with chef Christian Garcia – and ceremonies in the Palace’s Salon des Glaces, where the godparents (Christopher Le Vine Jr. and Diane de Polignac Nigra, both Albert’s cousins and Charlene’s younger brother Gareth and his wife Nerine Pienaar) will be honored.