Royal fans gather for Princess Charlotte christening

Prince George of Cambridge (left) gives a kiss to his sister Princess Charlotte in this picture released by Kensington Palace that was taken by Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in May 2015.
Prince George of Cambridge (left) gives a kiss to his sister Princess Charlotte in this picture released by Kensington Palace that was taken by Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in May 2015.PHOTO: AFP / KENSINGTON PALACE / DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

LONDON (AFP) - Crowds gathered outside Queen Elizabeth II's country residence on Sunday for the christening of Britain's baby Princess Charlotte, who it was announced will have five godparents.

Early risers, many wearing Union Jack-printed clothing, braved the wet conditions and set up camp outside Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England, ahead of the 4:30pm (1130 pm Singapore time) service.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual head of the world's Anglicans, will perform the baptism, which involves pouring holy water from the River Jordan on two-month-old Charlotte's head.

The fourth-in-line to the throne is expected to wear a replica of the lace and satin christening gown made for queen Victoria's eldest daughter in 1841.

The low-key ceremony will take place in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, close to Anmer Hall, the secluded mansion where Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, are bringing up their two children away from the glare of the media.

Three future kings - Charles, William and George - will attend the ceremony, which will be performed using a font from Victoria's reign.

Other guests will include the 89-year-old queen and her husband Prince Philip, plus Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton.

William and Kate announced early Sunday that Charlotte - fourth in line to the throne - would have five godparents, including William's cousin Laura Fellowes and Kate's cousin Adam Middleton.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have said they want their children to have relatively normal upbringings and have closely guarded their privacy.

The low-key christening is in sharp contrast to their lavish 2011 wedding, which was shown live across the world, and to the media frenzy surrounding the birth of their children.

Though the service was to be conducted behind closed doors, it will be documented by celebrity photographer Mario Testino, who was close to Princess Diana and took some of the most famous shots of her in 1997.

Members of the public will be allowed to stand outside the church to see the royals going in and out.

This will be the second time the public will catch a glimpse of the new princess after she appeared with her parents on the steps of St Mary's Hospital in London after her birth on May 2.