After making his public debut on the steps of the Lindo Wing in April, we'll next catch a glimpse of Prince Louis of Cambridge, the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at his christening, which is expected to take place next month. Given the plethora of traditions at play in every aspect of royal life, we already know the exact outfit the little Prince will wear for this important milestone: when Louis is baptised, he will be dressed in a Honiton Christening gown, an outfit that will connect him to nearly 180 years of royal history.
Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert welcomed their first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, in 1840, and her christening was set for 10th February 1841, to coincide with the couple's first wedding anniversary. To mark this happy occasion, a special outfit, now widely known as the Honiton Lace Christening gown, was commissioned by the Queen, who deliberately looked to British industries that were currently struggling in the face of the industrial revolution. By opting for silk spun in London's Spitalfields and lace fashioned in Honiton, Devon, the monarch gave a much needed publicity boost to both of these traditional crafts, which were languishing as production methods became mechanised. The christening gown itself, which was designed by a woman named Janet Sutherland, featured a distinctive long, lace skirt.
The royal couple were so pleased with the outfit that they decided that their next child, the future King Edward VII, would wear it for his baptism, too, and thus a tradition was established. 62 royals (and five monarchs) have worn the gown since, including the Queen, Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry. However, the delicate Victorian lace has since become too fragile for use, and in 2004 the outfit was taken out of use (the last royal to be christened in the original gown was Lady Louise Windsor, daughter of the Queen's youngest son Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex).
However, the tradition did not end there. The Queen asked her dressmaker and right hand woman Angela Kelly to whip up a replica outfit in the same fabric, and this copy made its debut at the christening of Lady Louise's younger brother, Viscount Severn, in 2008. It has since been worn by Prince George (at his 2013 christening at St James's Palace) and Princess Charlotte (at her 2015 christening at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham), and it's a given that Prince Louis will follow in the footsteps of his older siblings this summer.