17 APRIL 2008

With eight grandchildren in the family, christenings are a regular occasion these days for the British royals. As they gather at Windsor Castle this weekend for the baptism of the Earl and Countess of Wessex's younger child, James Alexander Philip Theo, there will be a new element to the ceremony, however.

The four-month-old, who bears the title of Viscount Severn, will be wearing a brand new gown for the Saturday service in the Castle's private chapel.

Eagle-eyed royal watchers may notice the new garment bears a striking resemblance to the robe worn by the Queen, her children and her grandchildren, though. In fact it is a hand-made replica of the original 163-year-old christening robe worn by generations of royals.

Made in 1841 for the christening of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter, also called Victoria, the original white satin, Honiton lace-decorated gown will now be preserved.

Prince Edward's son, who is eighth in line to the throne, will be the first member of the royal family to wear the replacement robe.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The couple's baby son will wear a handmade replica of the 163-year-old christening robe worn by several generations of the royal family when he is christened at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on SaturdayPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: © Alphapress.com
The original gown, which was worn by James' sister Louise at her April 2004 baptism (pictured), will now be preserved for posterityPhoto: © Getty Images
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