Remembering Diana: Why William and Kate chose caring Julia Samuel as godmother
23 OCTOBER 2013
When Prince William asked for Kate's hand he famously gave her his beloved mother's engagement ring "to make sure she was included". Now at another crucial stage of his life he has chosen to honour her memory by asking two people with close ties to Diana, Princess of Wales to be godparents to their baby Prince George.
The first is Julia Samuel who knew Diana from 1987 until her death in 1997. At the christening in the chapel of St James's Palace on Wednesday, she will promise to watch over and guide the tiny future King, along with six other friends and family members of the couple.
She got to know the Princess because of her aristocratic pedigree – Julia is a member of the Guinness family by birth and her sister Sabrina once dated Prince Charles.
Of their friendship, Julia said: "Diana and I did ordinary things that any friends would do. We went for lunch, our children played together, we chatted, we did family things."
They also shared a passion for helping others. Julia is Founder Patron and Trustee of Child Bereavement UK, a charity which supports bereaved children as well as parents who have lost a child.
For years she has counselled families through the sort of loss no one should have to bear. William's own experience has given him a far greater awareness than most of how vital her work is.
His choice reflects not only his love for his mother but the kind of compassionate, caring person he wants his son to become.
George will also have a godfather connected to the iconic Princess. Hugh Grosvenor, the 22-year-old heir to the Duke of Westminster has been given the honour.
It's obviously a surprising choice given his youth, but the links between their families go back years.
His mother Natalia, Tally to her friends, is William's godmother. With a £1.7bn fortune, the family is fabulously wealthy. Last year Hugh, a student at Newcastle university, had a grand 21st with 800 guests invited to celebrate at his father's Cheshire estate Eaton Hall.
Yet, his life has not merely been one of privilege. His father has a keen appreciation of what is important in life, supporting scores of charities.
The Duke is very family minded and has always made a point to be home at 5pm to spend time with Hugh and his siblings Tamara, Edwina and Viola.
On one occasion the Duke took his two eldest daughters to visit drug addicts in Liverpool. "There is a whole different world out there and I want to open their eyes to it," he said.
It's just the kind of sentiment that Diana might have expressed.