Couples with children, so the logic has always gone, must be in want of a godparent. Yet what started out as a religious tradition nearly two millennia ago has become more popular than ever along with the trend for "godparent proposals", a lavish way of asking someone to be your beloved offspring's guardian.

Searches of the term were up 152 per cent last year, according to a Pinterest study on the top trends for 2019.

Think wine bottles with cursive slogans ("only the best aunties get upgraded to godmother"), mugs, bracelets and keepsake boxes.

As if baby showers and gender reveal parties weren't enough, it seems we are to adopt another extravagant American affectation. It is no longer acceptable to simply ask an old friend if they fancy being godparent. We now have to mark the occasion with an official proposal, and a pointless gift.


In these secular times, the politics of godparenting can be confusing - especially if you have conflicting religious beliefs. While many couples circumnavigate this with naming ceremonies or non-religious affairs, there may still be some ambiguity when it comes to what is expected of the godparent or guardian.

One friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I'm officially Church of England, but am actually borderline atheist. My eldest godchild is Catholic and just had his first Holy Communion.

"I was expected to buy him a big present, but I decided not to as I felt pretty resentful about the whole thing. I don't think godparents should feel obligated to buy presents and I don't know why they asked me in the first place as I'm really not religious."

Some people bypass this by taking out the faith element. Dr Caz Udall, a leadership coach and mother-of-three, chose to have "soul brothers" rather than godparents.

"We wanted people that had a good connection, generation wise, for our kids," she explains. "We chose the children of our friends, who were teenagers at the time, because we liked the idea of honouring our friendships with both the adults and their children."

It was, says Udall, a sort of kinship network. "We are 15 years in and the oldest 'soul brother' is now 30. It has been a brilliant experience."

It seems to me that godparents are often more of a middle-class accessory or status symbol: There is instant kudos, for example, if a child has a famous one. Think Cara Delevingne and Joan Collins, Drew Barrymore and Steven Spielberg, and Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus, cementing the elders' statuses as caring bon viveurs.

Indeed, the idea of being a glamorous guardian with next to no real responsibilities is often better than the reality, especially when it involves a lifetime's servitude and two lots of presents each year. And, if you're a royal or a celebrity, there is no limit to your godparenting prowess.

Prince Charles has at least 30 godchildren, while Sir Elton John has 10, including Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham and Liz Hurley's son, Damian. Prince Louis, fifth in line to the throne, has six godparents.

I am fortunate to have two gorgeous god-daughters but, with three children under 10 and never-ending deadlines, I rarely have the time or the money to indulge them.

As my husband is Catholic, there was no way we weren't going to have our children christened. We thought carefully about who we asked to be godparents more as a gesture and acknowledgement of our friendship than expectation of duty.

The general consensus remains that godparents are guardians, and that's certainly something my own, Penny, took on board after my beloved mum died.

Godfather royalty

• Prince Charles has at least 30 godchildren.

• Sir Elton John has 10, including Brooklyn and Romeo Beckham and Liz Hurley's son, Damian.

• Prince Louis, fifth in line to the throne, has 6 godparents.