It was, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said, a “special moment”, as their firstborn son was christened in the bosom of his loving family.
As he showed his wide-awake face to the world for the first time, it seemed only right that Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor’s first formal photograph honoured not just those he will grow up with, but also the beloved grandmother he will never know.
The presence of Diana, Princess of Wales, was unmistakable, with her two sisters at the heart of a traditional photograph arranged around the same green chairs used in 1984 for pictures of Prince Harry and his mother.
The image was one of two issued by Buckingham Palace after Archie’s private christening yesterday, the more formal of a pair that encapsulated the Sussexes’ intention to blend duty and modernity. The second, a black-and-white shot worthy of a fashion magazine, shows the Duke and Duchess cradling their two-month-old son, -gazing over his head as he sleeps.
The first colour photograph of Archie since he was two days old appears to show him taking after his father, with wisps of reddish fair hair visible. At two months, he has dark eyes and is captured serenely blowing a bubble.
Staring to the right of photographer Chris Allerton, the seventh in line to the throne is awake and attentive as he wears a replica of the fine Honiton lace christening gown originally -commissioned by Queen Victoria for her first child and worn by every senior member of the Royal Family.
Archie, nestled on his mother’s lap with his casually dressed father next to them, is surrounded by members of the Royal Family: the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Doria Ragland, the Duchess’s mother, is the sole representative of Archie’s maternal line, with the estranged Thomas Markle missing once again.
In the middle of the picture, behind the chairs of Windsor Castle’s Green Drawing Room, are Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale: two of the three siblings of Diana, Princess of Wales. Lady Jane was one of the first visitors to see Archie as a newborn, and it is understood their presence in the photograph underlines the Duke’s determination to raise his son -surrounded by his mother’s memory.
Tiggy Pettifer (nee Legge-Bourke), who was the Duke’s nanny, was seen being driven into the castle for the christening. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were missing from the photograph and the christening, instead spending the weekend in Sandringham for long-held hosting duties.
Royal watchers noticed the continuity from the Duke’s christening, when the Royal Family joined the baby on the same chairs for a photo shoot.
A spokesman for the couple said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to share the happiness of this day, and would like to thank everyone around the world for their ongoing support. They feel so fortunate to have enjoyed this special moment with -family and Archie’s godparents.”
After a week in which the Duke and Duchess were criticised for shutting the public out of simple factual details surrounding the christening, the Palace declined to confirm the names of Archie’s godparents yesterday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury conducted what was described as an “intimate” service, using water from the River Jordan and the historic Lily Font.