Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Princess Astrid marries divorced commoner

January 12, 1961

Today HRH Princess Astrid of Norway entered the "small parish church of Asker," as a princess with the style of royal highness.  She came out the the church with a new title and style,  Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner.  Her sister, Princess Ragnhild Alexandra, also lost the style of royal highness when she married Erling Lorentzen in 1953.   The new title was announced by King Olav V.  
Women cannot succeed to the Norwegian throne.
The Princess, second daughter of King Olav V and his late wife, Princess Martha,  married a Norwegian commoner, Johan Martin Ferner.  This was Ferner's second marriage.  His first marriage ended in divorce in 1955.
This was a very private wedding, and all of the royal guests from Britain, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden, are all related to bride.  According to the New York Times, "the private nature of the wedding was emphasized by the fact that no official representatives of any foreign country were present."
In spite of a heavy snowfall today and a temperature 10 degrees below zero, "thousands of persons gathered along the mile-long road from the royal residence at Skaugum to the church.   The road was lit with flaming torches that "lent a fairy tale aspect" in the snow.
The possession to the church began at 5 p.m., and was headed by Princess Ragnhild and her husband.  They were followed by relatives from Denmark and Sweden.  Princess Margaret and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones were ninth in the procession and were followed by Hereditary Grand Duke Jean and Hereditary Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg, Prince Bertil and Princess Margaretha of Sweden,  Crown Prince Harald of Norway, who was in "full dress uniform" and Crown Princess Margrethe of Denmark.
Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, wore "mink and blue velvet."
Princess Astrid, 28, smiled faintly as she walked "through the flower-bedecked portals of the church with her bouquet of pink roses and freesias."  She entered the church to the Purcell's "Trumpet Tune and Air."
The Chicago Tribune's reported noted that Astrid looked "pale and shaken" when she arrived at the church, but she "seemed to recover" when she stood before the bishop with Ferner and made her vows.
Her "elaborate gown" was made of point d'esprit and silver-embroidered lace."  Astrid was attended by three young bridesmaids and her nephew, 6-year-old Haakon Lorentzen. 
After the couple promised to "love and honor" each other, and made their vows, Metropolitan Opera star Aase Nordmo Lovberg sang Beethoven's "Song of Praise."
The newlyweds emerged from the church to Mendelsson's "Wedding march."
The 40 minute ceremony was broadcast on Norwegian radio.
King Olav hosted a dinner for 200 guests at his home at Skaugum.  The royal guests used the royal silver plate in the "royal dining room," while the non-royal guests  "dined on china in the billiard room and library."
The couple cut a 70 pound wedding cake "made in the shape" of Princess Astrid's boat "on which she and Ferner spent so many happy hours."

 After the dinner, Princess Astrid and Mr. Ferner and their guests "were greeted by a long procession carrying torches."
Princess Astrid and Johan Martin Ferner announced their engagement in November.  The announcement was received with criticism due to Ferner's first marriage. Objections were raised by officials with the Norwegian Lutheran church and members of the Norwegian Parliament.   A number of Norwegian pastors will "not marry divorced persons.    The wedding was originally scheduled to take place at the Cathedral in Oslo, but due to the controversy, the celebrations were moved to the small church in Asker.  The Lutheran ceremony was performed by a retired Bishop Arne Fjellbu of Nidaros, an "old friend of the royal family."
The Princess and her husband share a common interest in yacht, and she has sailed own boat for many years, and has won numerous prizes in national regattas.
The Princess spent the war years with her mother and sister and brother in Bethesda, Maryland.  Astrid was eight years old when the Germans invaded Norway in 1940, and she and her family fled the country and sailed to the United States.  
Since the end of the second world war, Princess Astrid has visited the United States several times.  During the winter of 1953-1954, she spent two months in Palm Beach, Florida, with her mother, who was very ill.  In the spring of 1956, she spent two weeks at the same resort in Palm Beach.  She came back again in 1958 to attend Minnesota's centenary celebrations.  Her most recent visit to this county was in June 1960, when she and two other Scandinavian princesses, "made the inaugural flight of Scandinavian Airlines to Los Angeles."
Princess Astrid is said to be "very popular with children."  Since the death of her mother and her sister's marriage,  Astrid as acted as Norway's first lady.  During visits to Norwegian towns with her father, children "often greeted her more spontaneously and informally than they did the King."

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