Newly released newsreel footage shows four generations of royals gathered for the future king's big day at Buckingham Palace

By Simon Perry
Updated July 22, 2015 04:10 PM
Credit: Keystone-FranceGamma-RaphoGetty

Long before birthday boy Prince George came along to steal the show, his grandfather Prince Charles was the world’s most famous little king-to-be.

New footage released by Movietone, one of the world’s largest newsreel archives, shows 4-week-old Prince Charles at his 1948 christening – alongside his 22-year-old mother, the then-Princess Elizabeth.

In the black-and-white footage (with a charmingly period voiceover!) newborn Charles can be seen wearing the long Honiton lace christening robe that had originated in Queen Victoria’s day. A replica of that gown was worn by both Princess Charlotte and her big brother George at their christenings.

Just like Charlotte’s baptism on July 5, that of her grandfather Prince Charles was a private ceremony. But the royal family let the cameras in as they posed for photographs at Buckingham Palace afterward.

Charles is called Prince Charles of Edinburgh in the historic film clip because his mother was not Queen yet. The camera is shown panning along the birth registration showing his parents’ names (“The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh”) – his dad Prince Philip had been created Duke of Edinburgh a year earlier.

Outside the palace gates (Charles was baptized in the same Lily Font as his grandchildren, but at the palace) there were crowds of well-wishers, some of whom will have caught a glimpse of the 50 attendees, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, and Charles’s relatives, such as his great-grandmother Queen Mary.

There were four generations of royals attending, including his grandfather, King George VI, who is heard on the voiceover as being “well enough” to attend the family occasion, for which there was “natural delight.”

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Well-behaved Charles paid “no heed” to the filming and remained “perfectly calm” for the cameras before his nurse came and relieved Elizabeth and took him off to bed.

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