The Queen and Prince Charles could be dragged into the row over Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to keep their son Archie’s godparents secret, a royal expert claimed today.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shunned celebrities such as Serena Williams for the role and instead turned to the group whose children had key jobs at their wedding.
Meghan and Harry have picked ‘close and old friends’ for the roles amid a backlash over the royal couple’s refusal to identify them because they are ‘private citizens’.
And the royal couple, who are denying any public access to his christening at Windsor Castle on Saturday, have also decided not to allow TV cameras in to record the royal family arriving.
Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited – a book on Harry and Meghan’s romance, who has written about the royals for three decades, called the decision ‘childish and naive’.
He told MailOnline today: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point the Queen or Prince Charles has a chat with them about it over cup of tea. What makes them so different from every other royal who is happy to let these details be known?’
He added: ‘They tried to keep the location of Archie’s birth secret but then everybody found out the hospital, so what is the point?’
The couple, who are denying any public access to the proceedings at Windsor Castle, have also decided not to allow TV cameras in to record the royal family arriving
In the frame to me godmothers: Meghan’s friends Benita Litt (left) and Lindsay Roth (pictured with Megan on the right)
In the frame as godfathers: Jake Warren, son of the Queen’s bloodstock manager, (left, wearing a top hat and yellow waistcoat) and Mark Dyer, Harry’s childhood mentor and confidante (seen with Meghan on the right)
Harry and Meghan’s decision comes days after the couple were criticised for using £2.4million of public money to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, their new official residence on the Queen’s Berkshire estate.
Can details of baptisms and christenings be kept private?
Under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, all Church of England baptisms are a matter of public record.
Details of both public and private baptisms are kept in a large register for each Anglican parish.
Anyone willing to pay the required fee can look up the details of any baptism in any given Church of England parish.
For 2019 the set fee is £30.
The details record for each baptism are as follows:
Date of birth
Date of baptism
Christian name and surname
Mother and father’s christian name and surname
Mother and father’s occupations
Mr Dampier said: ‘Coming so soon after the controversy over the cost of renovating Frogmore Cottage this looks like they want to have their cake and eat it’.
The Sussexes godparents are likely to include Meghan’s friend Benita Litt and Harry’s childhood mentor Mark Dyer, while more-notable names including Jessica Mulroney and Serena Williams are out.
Ms Litt is an old friend from Los Angeles whose daughters Remi and Rylan – both Meghan’s goddaughters – were bridesmaids at the couple’s wedding.
Another possible godmother is Lindsay Roth, who met Meghan at Northwestern University in the US and is one of her oldest friends. Meghan was her bridesmaid and the two spend a lot of time together as she lives in London.
They will release a small number of images taken by their own photographer later in the day.
Among those Harry is likely to choose are his childhood friend Jake Warren, son of the Queen’s bloodstock manager, whose daughter, Zalie, two, was also a bridesmaid last year.
Also in the frame is Mark Dyer, Harry’s childhood mentor and confidante, whose son Jasper is the prince’s godson and was a pageboy at the wedding, as well his former nanny Tiggy Pettifer.
The fact that many of them were involved publicly in the Sussexes’ wedding may lead to further criticism of the decision not to reveal the godparents’ identities.
Earlier this year they refused to announce where the duchess had given birth to their son, which the Mail revealed to be the Portland Hospital in London.
However, it was confirmed yesterday that Archie will be baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby.
The Mail has been told the godmothers definitely do not include Meghan’s Canadian friend Jessica Mulroney
From left to right: Princess Charlotte, the Duchess of Cambridge, Jessica Mulroney, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zoe Warren, Zalie Warren, Benita Litt, Remy Litt and Rylan Litt arrive at St George’s Chapel for Meghan’s wedding
St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, where Archie’s christening ceremony will be held this weekend
The fact that the Queen’s great-grandson and seventh in line to the throne is being welcomed into the Church of England by its second most senior figure, after the Queen, may raise questions over Harry and Meghan’s demands for privacy.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: ‘Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be christened in a small private ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday July 6. The godparents, in keeping with their wishes, will remain private.’
The couple’s photographer on the day will be Chris Allerton, who took their wedding photos.
A senior royal source said last night: ‘People are largely sympathetic about their clear desire to bring Archie up out of the public spotlight as much as possible.
‘But a christening is something very different. Archie’s great-grandmother is head of the Church of England and he is still very high up in the line of succession.
‘They are also senior working royals who are funded by the Sovereign Grant. You can’t have it both ways. There is a feeling that this doesn’t look very good at all.
‘Harry feels very defensive and very protective of his family. But the feeling is that he needs to put this to one side in certain instances, and this is one.’
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, who has written about royal children for several decades, said she could not remember details of a senior royal’s godparents ever being withheld.
‘The trouble is that they [Harry and Meghan] want it every which way they can,’ she added.
Harry’s biographer Penny Junor said: ‘Not allowing any media access is denying a lot of people a very innocent pleasure.’
Under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, all Church of England baptisms are a matter of public record, including the godparents and officiating minister. Anyone willing to pay the required fee can look up the details.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge allowed the media to cover each of their children’s christenings.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they will not be revealing the godparents of baby Archie after his private christening this weekend
Royal critics slammed the decision to keep the christening private, particularly in light of the row over the refurbishments at Frogmore.
The Dean of Chelmsford Nicholas Henshall told the BBC: ‘Baptism should never be private – it’s a public demonstration of God’s love.’
Piers Morgan, who has been a long-standing critic of Meghan, expressed his outrage, saying: ‘The godparents will not be announced’.
‘Why not? Harry & Meghan need to stop playing these dumb cake-and-eat-it games with the media/public.
‘If you want your home costs paid by the taxpayer, you reveal this kind of info. That’s the deal.’
While Professor Adrian Hilton, political philosophy lecturer at the University of Surrey, commented: ‘Details of the godparents will be kept private.’
‘This is inappropriate. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in receipt of the ‘Sovereign Grant’: their son isn’t a ‘private citizen’; his godparents are a matter of public interest, having responsibility for his spiritual wellbeing.’
The decision has sparked outrage on social media, with one person tweeting: ‘Shame, shame. Why be so hidden when one has a public position. I’m disappointed in Harry.
Harry and Meghan are pictured with Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor at two days old inside Windsor Castle
The royal announcement revealing the godparents will remain anonymous was released today
Another wrote: ‘They are ridiculous. Their choices are so petty and disrespectful to British tax payers.
‘Catherine And William are doing wonderful but why should Brits want to pay for a couple that has no regard for the people?’
Who is Harry and Meghan’s favourite photographer Chris Allerton?
Harry and Meghan chose private photographer Chris Allerton to capture their wedding day in Windsor back in May 2018.
Previously unseen, black and white images he took of the day were released this May to celebrate the couple’s one-year anniversary.
So impressed by his work, they also chose him to take the first public pictures of baby Archie.
Chris Allerton took this shot of Harry and Meghan on their wedding day
Usually royal births are swarmed with photographers, as was the case when they camped outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London after the births of Prince George, Louis and Princess Charlotte.
But only Mr Allerton was allowed inside Winsdor Castle for the moment Harry, Meghan and Archie were first seen in public as a family.
Previously a soldier in the British Army he left in 2001 to become a photographer.
Although the royal christenings are usually private and not broadcast like weddings or coronations, guests are often photographed arriving at the ceremony.
Baby Archie’s arrival has struck a sharp contrast to that of his cousins’ Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Kate and William posed for photographs with each of their newborns outside the famous Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital.
Their choice of godparents and christening guests were also public knowledge, with wellwishers pictured by the press on their way to the services.
But details of Meghan’s birthing plan, when she went into labour and the location of the birth were kept a secret with the royal couple insisting they wanted to maintain a high level of privacy.
Archie was also born without a royal title, reflecting his parents wish to raise him out of the media spotlight.
Sources have said Saturday’s service will be a ‘very small gathering’ of about 25 people.
It will be attended by Archie’s grandfather Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Queen will miss her great-grandson’s baptism due to other commitments.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to exclude the press on the day could mean the non-royal guests remain a secret.
The statement issued by Buckingham Palace reads: ‘Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be christened in a small private ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday 6th July.
‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex look forward to sharing some images taken on the day by photographer Chris Allerton.
‘The godparents, in keeping with their wishes, will remain private.’
Royal biographer Penny Junor previously said members of the public would have wanted to share Harry and Meghan’s joy of baptizing their first child, branding the move a ‘terrible mistake’.
She said: ‘We’re not asking for Archie to become public property but to be able to share in the pleasure of his christening, I think it is only fair to give the public that pleasure.
Tennis Champion Serena Williams is not in the running to be godmother, sources told the Mail
‘Because although Archie himself is not going to be a working member of the royal family, so far as we can tell he’s going to be brought up as a normal child, that’s fine but Harry is very much a part of the royal family as we’ve known it over the years.
‘People love him and they’re really happy for him – he’s married Meghan and they’ve had the baby – and they want to share in the joy of that and I think this is a terrible shame and I think it’s a mistake.’
Royal expert, Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said she felt that people were becoming a ‘bit jaded’ by ‘stylised’ pictures of the newest royal.
She said of the couple’s decision to keep the public out of Archie’s life: ‘I think this is quite Harry-led and it is putting Meghan in a very difficult position.
‘She’s the one getting all the flak as a newcomer to the Royal Family. I assume Harry and Meghan don’t know where they are going wrong and think the criticism is all so very unfair.
‘But why wouldn’t they want the world to see their baby? I don’t think it is any skin off their nose.’
Harry and Meghan were last pictured together at the Yankees v Red Socks baseball game at the London Stadium on Saturday
Who are in line to be Archie’s royal godparents?
ON MEGHAN’S SIDE
THE MOTHER OF MEGHAN’S GODCHILDREN: Benita Litt
If Meghan decides a reciprocal godparenting arrangement might be best, then she may well look to the mother of her own godchildren.
Benita Litt, mother to Remi and Rylan Litt, was spotted close to Meghan’s mother Doria at the royal wedding with the pair clearly delighted to be representing the Duchess’s side of the family.
A former entertainment lawyer, high-flying Benita has previously been on holiday with the royal – and if you needed any further proof of their solid friendship, the pair also spent Christmas 2016 together.
Benita Litt (pictured left at the Royal wedding with Meghan’s mother Doria) is the mother of Meghan’s godchildren Remi and Rylan Litt
THE UNIVERSITY PAL: Lindsay Roth
Keeper of some of the Duchess’ oldest secrets, Lindsay Roth is a fellow alumni from Northwestern University in Illinois, where the pair bonded in an English literature class studying Toni Morrison’s works.
Now a successful TV producer and author, Lindsay has already bestowed a role on Meghan, choosing her to serve as her maid of honour at her wedding in 2016.
Lindsay Roth (pictured with Meghan) is one of her oldest friends and a fellow alumni from Meghan’s time spent studying literature at Northwestern
On Harry’s side
THE SECOND FATHER: Mark Dyer
Mark Dyer has been noted as a ‘second father’ to Prince Harry throughout his upbringing and a mentor alongside the royal’s former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke.
Cheltenham College educated Dyer, known as Marko to friends, became a steadying big brother figure to the princes in the mid-Nineties when he worked as an equerry to the Prince of Wales for 18 months.
Prince Charles appointed Dyer to keep an eye on his sons, and he was brought in as a male counterpart to former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke.
During the first half term after Diana’s death, when the boys would have been with their mother, Prince Charles was committed to a five day visit to Africa.
He took Harry along and while the Prince carried out engagements, Harry went off on safari in Botswana, organised by Mark.
From then on he was a key guiding figure as Harry and William tried to come to terms with the loss of their mother.
After his spell as an employee to the Prince ended he remained a mentor to Harry.
In 2009 Mark founded the management company MDM Bars and Pubs and runs two pubs The Sand’s End and The Brown Cow, in south-west London which both became haunts of Prince Harry.
Mark’s six-year-old son Jasper, who is Prince Harry’s godson, was chosen as a page boy for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding.
Mark Dyer (pictured with Harry) has been described as a ‘second father’ to Prince Harry following his mother Princess Diana’s death
THE FATHER OF HARRY’S GODCHILD: Jake Warren
Jake Warren and his wife Zoe attended the couple’s wedding, and their daughter Zalie – who is one of Prince Harry’s godchildren – was chosen to be a flower girl.
The godson of Princess Diana, Jake grew up alongside Prince Harry and has often been spotted with him at events including Ascot.
The Warren family are closely connected to the royals through horse-racing. Jake’s father John Warren is the Queen’s racing manager.
The father-and-son team run Highclere Stud in Newbury together.
Jake Warren and his wife Zoe had their daughter Zali, who is one of Prince Harry’s godchildren, attended their wedding (Harry and Jake pictured together at Royal Ascot in 2014)