VIDEO, PICTURES

British royal dynasty set for Prince George's christening

A television crew report from outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A television crew report from outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
British Royal Family fans from left, Terry Hutt, Julie Cain, Marie Scott and John Loughrey camp up outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP 
British Royal Family fans from left, Terry Hutt, Julie Cain, Marie Scott and John Loughrey camp up outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A giant Christening card is pictured before delivery outside the Royal Chapel in St James's Palace in Central London on Oct 22, 2013, where Prince George of Cambridge will be baptised. -- PHOTO: AFP
A giant Christening card is pictured before delivery outside the Royal Chapel in St James's Palace in Central London on Oct 22, 2013, where Prince George of Cambridge will be baptised. -- PHOTO: AFP
A foot guard marches pass outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A foot guard marches pass outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Royal supporter John Loughrey poses outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Royal supporter John Loughrey poses outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A giant christening card, signed by 5,000 Christians, for Prince George and the royal family is seen outside Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
A giant christening card, signed by 5,000 Christians, for Prince George and the royal family is seen outside Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Royal supporter John Loughrey poses outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AP
Royal supporter John Loughrey poses outside the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace in London ahead of the christening of Prince George, Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013.  -- PHOTO: AP
A general view of the interior of the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in central London on Oct 17, 2013, where Prince George of Cambridge will be christened.  -- PHOTO: AFP
A general view of the interior of the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in central London on Oct 17, 2013, where Prince George of Cambridge will be christened.  -- PHOTO: AFP
The interior of the Chapel Royal is seen in this general view taken at St James's Palace in central London Oct 17, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The interior of the Chapel Royal is seen in this general view taken at St James's Palace in central London Oct 17, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The interior of the Chapel Royal is seen in this general view taken at St James's Palace in central London Oct 17, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The interior of the Chapel Royal is seen in this general view taken at St James's Palace in central London Oct 17, 2013.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A picture dated July 23, 2013 shows Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, showing their new-born baby boy, Prince George of Cambridge to the world's media, standing on the steps outside the Lindo W
A picture dated July 23, 2013 shows Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, showing their new-born baby boy, Prince George of Cambridge to the world's media, standing on the steps outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP  
Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge, in this Tuesday July 23, 2013, file photo as they pose for the media outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave bir
Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge hold the Prince of Cambridge, in this Tuesday July 23, 2013, file photo as they pose for the media outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing in London where the Duchess gave birth on Monday July 22.  -- FILE  PHOTO: AP

LONDON (AFP) - Three generations of future British kings will gather on Wednesday for the low-key christening of Prince George, the son of Prince William and his wife Catherine.

Current monarch Queen Elizabeth II will also be present for the third-in-line prince's baptism, where she will be joined by heir apparent Prince Charles and second-in-line William.

But the ceremony, to be held at the Chapel Royal in London's St James's Palace, will be hidden from the world's media.

Royal officials have said that only "close members of both families" will attend the baptism, reflecting the royal couple's belief in keeping their son out of the spotlight.

The service will be conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the world's Anglicans, who called it "the next hugely important moment" in the young prince's life.

"A few months ago millions of people around the world celebrated the birth of Prince George," he said in a YouTube message released by his Lambeth Palace office on Tuesday.

"Now we're celebrating the next hugely important moment, which is his christening."

A Church of England christening involves a new baby having holy water poured on its head - the baby is not fully immersed.

Prince George - who is a future Supreme Governor of the Church of England and "Defender of the Faith" - was born on July 22.

Celebrity photographer Jason Bell - known for his portraits of Beatle Paul McCartney, footballer David Beckham and Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson - has been given sole responsibility for the official pictures.

The award-winning photographer will take the shots at Clarence House, home of Prince William's father Prince Charles, following Wednesday's service.

The pictures are expected to gain iconic status, showing four generations of monarchs together.

The last time such a photograph was taken was in 1894 at the christening of the future king Edward VIII, showing the infant with his father, later king George V, grandfather, the future king Edward VII, and great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Prince George has been deliberately shielded from the type of press attention that Prince William blames for the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in Paris while being followed by paparazzi.

The new baby's only public appearance has been with his parents as he left the London hospital where he was born.

The only other sighting of him has been in a picture with his parents and their dog Lupo which his maternal grandfather Michael Middleton took in his family's back garden.

This desire for privacy is also highlighted in the "personal decision" to use the Chapel Royal, Princess Diana's former private secretary explained to AFP.

"This is not like a royal wedding for example, this is essentially a private family occasion," said Mr Patrick Jephson.

"All be it, William and Kate have decided to make theirs a very intimate family occasion.

"The location ... is different from recent history where baptisms have taken place in Buckingham Palace."

Mr Jephson said that Wednesday's ceremony would send a strong message of the family's durability.

"For the royal family, a christening is important because it shows the continuing survival of the dynasty," he explained.

"It reinforces the public perception that the British royal family is going to be around for a long time to come."