Royal baptism day for Sweden’s Prince Alexander

Royal baptism day for Sweden's Prince Alexander
Prince Alexander pictured with his parents in church. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
UPDATED: Prince Alexander had his head dipped at Drottningholm Royal Chapel on Friday. It was the fifth Swedish royal baptism in a short period, with the princes and princesses now so numerous that experts say it should help prevent the country's monarchy from disappearing.

Five-month old Prince Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil, son of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia was officially christened at lunchtime by archbishop Antje Jackelén, using water brought in from a special spring on the island of Öland as is traditional.

The white christening gown he wore is the same one worn by every royal at their baptism since Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1906. Alexander even had his own special crown laid on a cushion in the church during the ceremony. That’s a rarity these days, as the number of children in the family is so large that only the first-born gets the privilege of exclusive royal headgear which they don't have to share with any of their family members.

The recent surge in numbers in Sweden’s royal family means more than just an excuse for pomp. According to Dick Harrison, history professor at Lund University, the rapid growth in the number of people entitled to inherit the Swedish throne is important, as it lessens the risk of the royal bloodline dying out.

“Around 1980 there was a change in the order of succession which meant that only the descendants of the current King’s children may inherit the crown. For a few years, when the royal children were small, we had probably the world’s most restricted lineage,” Harrison explained.

The large number of royal children does also mean that Prince Alexander is far down the order of succession. On the plus side, the further down the hierarchy, the fewer official duties children are expected to have, so Alexander will likely have fewer eyes watching him throughout his life than father Prince Carl Philip has.

At 12pm on Friday however the focus will very much be on the tiny new royal, as his family, representatives of Sweden’s parliament, government, dignitaries and members of foreign royal houses all gather to watch the big moment.