29 August 2018

Royal Jewel Rewind: The Norwegian Royal Wedding (1968)

The guests in attendance at Harald and Sonja's wedding, 29 August 1968 (AFP/Getty Images)

Today, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway mark their golden wedding anniversary, and we're celebrating the milestone by looking back at the tiaras worn for their wedding fifty years ago. Enjoy!




Wikimedia Commons

By all accounts, this was a royal wedding that was never intended to happen. Crown Prince Harald had fallen in love with Sonja Haraldsen, a commoner whose father ran a retail clothing business, in the late 1950s. Because Harald was expected to marry someone of equal status, as his father and grandfather before him had done, the romance was kept secret for nearly nine years. Finally, he gave his father, King Olav, an ultimatum: he would be allowed to marry Sonja, or he would marry no one, effectively leaving the monarchy without an heir. (His sisters had both given up their titles when they married commoners, and his father was an only child.) King Olav relented, and the couple announced their engagement in March 1968.


Wikimedia Commons

The night before the wedding, a gala was held in Sonja and Harald's honor at Akershus Castle. One memorable image from the evening shows Sonja, the nation's future queen, bending down in her gala dress to retrieve a handkerchief dropped by Magnhild Borten, wife of Prime Minister Per Borten.


Wikimedia Commons

Sonja didn't wear a tiara to her pre-wedding gala, but her royal guests did. Above, you'll spot the Alexandrine Diamond Drop Tiara on Crown Princess Margrethe of Denmark, who attended the gala with her new husband, Prince Henrik. (The two had welcomed their first child, Crown Prince Frederik, only a few months before.) Near the bottom of the image you'll note Princess Margaretha of Denmark wearing her floral tiara. Margaretha was Crown Prince Harald's aunt; her sister, Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, was his mother.


Wikimedia Commons

Behind Crown Prince Harald, you can catch a glimpse of the highest-ranking guests at the wedding: King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark. Ingrid wore jewels from the fantastic Danish Ruby Parure for the gala. (Exactly half a century later, the parure was worn for a state banquet in Copenhagen by Ingrid's granddaughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mary.)


Wikimedia Commons

On August 29, 1968, Harald and Sonja were married in Oslo Domkirke. The wedding was the biggest royal celebration that Oslo had seen in almost four decades.




Sonja's father had passed away in 1959, so her new father-in-law, King Olav, stepped in to escort her down the aisle. Many saw this as an important gesture of unity and reconciliation on the king's part, following his long opposition to the marriage. During the wedding, Olav sat beside Sonja's mother, Dagny Haraldsen.


Wikimedia Commons

Sonja also chose not to wear a tiara on her wedding day, nestling flowers into her veil instead. Her dress, made of heavy fabric with clean, simple lines, and her large tulle veil were both hallmarks of the fashion of the times.




The bridal party for the wedding was on the smaller side, including just four bridesmaids, all of whom were nieces of the couple. Sonja also had a maid of honor, Ilmi Riddervold, while Harald was supported by his first cousin, Count Flemming of Rosenborg. (Both Ilmi and Count Flemming also served as godparents for Harald and Sonja's first child, Princess Märtha Louise.)




After the wedding, the couple rode in an open car through the streets of Oslo, then appeared on the palace balcony to greet the gathered well-wishers.


AFP/Getty Images

Before the reception, an official group photograph of prominent guests was taken, and I've got some close-ups that let us have a peek at some of the jewels worn.


AFP/Getty Images

Crown Prince Harald's sisters were both in attendance. On the left, Princess Ragnhild wears the pearl circle tiara she inherited from her grandmother, Princess Ingeborg. Princess Astrid (standing directly behind Crown Princess Sonja) wears the Vasa Tiara, a legacy from her mother.


AFP/Getty Images

Queen Ingrid wore the grand Pearl Poiré Tiara for the wedding, along with pieces from the accompanying married parure of diamond and pearl jewels. Behind her, you'll spot Princess Margaretha of Denmark, again wearing the floral tiara she inherited from her mother-in-law, Princess Marie.


AFP/Getty Images

Sonja's mother, Dagny Haraldsen, is in the foreground of this image, standing beside King Olav. In the back row we've got three tiaras. The fascinating opal tiara that belonged to Princess Marie of Denmark, worn by Countess Ruth of Rosenborg, is on the left. To the right of Prince Henrik of Denmark, you'll spot Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte (first cousin of the groom) wearing her Emerald Peacock Tiara. Obscured behind her, wearing a simple bandeau, is Countess Madeleine Bernadotte, another first cousin of the groom.


AFP/Getty Images

Standing behind her grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, you'll see Crown Princess Margrethe of Denmark, who borrowed the Baden Palmette Tiara from her mother for the wedding. She paired the tiara with the suite of diamond and sapphire jewels she inherited from Queen Alexandrine.

You'll also spot Prince Claus of the Netherlands behind her; he attended the wedding alone, as Princess Beatrix was eight months pregnant with their second child, Prince Friso. King Baudouin of the Belgians, another first cousin of the groom, also attended the wedding without his wife, Queen Fabiola. (I don't believe it was public at the time, but Fabiola suffered her fifth miscarriage in 1968.) Also conspiculously absent: the British royals, who are close cousins of the Norwegian royal family. (King Olav, a grandson of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, was born on the Sandringham estate.) The Queen Mother had been scheduled to attend, but her trip was canceled following the death of Princess Marina two days before the wedding.


Wikimedia Commons

Above, the couple waltzes during their wedding reception. They may not have been supposed to marry, but today, Harald and Sonja have reigned in Norway for almost three decades, and their family includes two children and six grandchildren.