- (Photo: Reuters/Michael Middleton/The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)
The Most Rev. Justin Welby is preparing for what he called the "hugely important" baptism of the royal baby Prince George on Wednesday, and urged other parents to follow suit and have their children baptized.
"We celebrate, first of all, the joy of the parents. It's a wonderful thing, having a baby. All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies," Welby, the leader of the 85-million Anglican Communion, explained in a short film about baptism.
"As a nation we're celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state," he continued. "That's extraordinary. It gives you this sense of forward looking, of the forwardness of history as well as the backwardness of history, and what a gift to have this new life and to look forward."
The Christening will take place on Wednesday at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, with reports suggesting that only a select number of guests will be invited. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, are also expected to name three godmothers and three godfathers for their first child.
Welby, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, added in the video that baptism is "at its heart the gift of God." He said that it is really about the gift of life – not simply physical life, but spiritual life as well.
The Anglican Communion leader encouraged all families and people interested in baptism to look into their local church about how to join the practice, as it would unite them with other people who have been baptized around the world into one large family.
"God doesn't care who we are – it's for adults and children," Welby continued. "God's love is offered without qualification, without price, without cost, to all people in all circumstances, always."
The Archbishop of Canterbury was one of many to congratulate the royal couple after the birth of their son in July.
"I am delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy," Welby said. "Along with millions here and around the world, I share in their joy at this special time. May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead."
The last well-known royal baby to be baptized in the Chapel Royal was Princess Beatrice in December 1988, BBC News noted. While the official guest list has not yet been released, a royal portrait will be taken of Queen Elizabeth II along with the three future monarchs - the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince George.