What's the point of God-Parents actually?


Prince William and his new bride are about to get the call up from David and Victoria Beckham to be godparents to their new daughter, little Harper Seven.

I mentioned this with a degree of cynicism to my friend Beth who said, ‘No, they’re really good friends. They went to the wedding and everything.’

‘Well, I countered, ‘Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson were there too, but I don’t suppose they were on the short-list.’

‘Also, Julia’s an atheist,’ conceded Beth, ‘So there would be no point in having them as godparents. God being the operative word.’

We let it rest there. I have no idea of the Beckhams’ faith or lack of. Same for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Of course William will one day be head of the Church Of England, so he’ll have to nod along, at least.

But it got me thinking about christenings, baptisms, naming ceremonies … and godparents. Who they are, if they matter, and what is expected of them?

Technically (and I’m only familiar with Catholicism here) a godparent is expected to accompany the child on her spiritual journey through life. I’m godmother to three kids and I worry I fail in my duties in that respect. I buy birthday gifts (when I remember) and take an interest in how they’re going and what they’re up to: What books are you reading? How’s school? Is he enjoying swimming?

I rarely ask about their spiritual journey and I suspect I’d cause deep embarrassment if I did.

I wonder if there are other friends of the Beckhams feeling miffed at the potential royal appointment.  What about Victoria’s school mates? Fellas who play soccer with Becks?  Families who share the school run? Nannies? Neighbours? I bet Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are especially bitter, ‘After all those soccer matches we sat through when they first came to LA!’

What do you think about godparents? Were yours involved as you were growing up? Do your kids have godparents? If you were acquainted with a prince, would you choose him above everyone else?