King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway celebrated 52 years of marriage on Saturday.
The couple married on August 29, 1968 at Oslo Domkirke following a nine-year courtship that began serendipitously when, several months after her father’s death, Sonja Heraldsen was convinced, by her mother, to attend a June 1959 party also attended by the Crown prince. Despite the couple being photographed several months later at his graduation from the Norwegian Military Academy, they had to overcome strong pressure for Crown Prince Harald to marry a foreign princess instead of a commoner trained as a dressmaker and tailor. But overcome they did (reportedly, after Harald, the sole heir, gave an ultimatum to his father that it was Sonja or no one!) and consent was granted to their union in 1968. King Olav V added his own support to the marriage by offering to escort Sonja down the aisle.
Sonja’s training as a dressmaker in Norway and France and work in her late father’s clothing store undoubtedly gave her greater understanding of fashion than most royal brides. She collaborated with Sigrid Vedeler from Norwegian fashion house Molstad for her gown.
The resulting gown followed a silhouette popular in the late 1960s- high neck, three quarter sleeves, slight empire waist and A-line skirt- made of structured silk zibeline that crisply emphasized the design’s clean lines and beautifully held its shape. The gown was simply embellished with pearl embroidery on the funnel neck and on bands at the sleeves.
A sweeping, square edged train attached at the shoulders.
The gown was topped with a voluminous silk organza full length veil anchored by a spiky white faux floral headpiece. To balance the headpiece, Sonja’s only other accessories were simple pearl stud earrings. Her all white bouquet, made by legendary retired decorator Fernando Menk, included orchids, roses, lily of the valley and Sonja’s favorite flower, freesia.
With guests in gowns and tiaras, the wedding was a glittering affair.
I have always loved this bridal look for its sweeping lines and streamlined aesthetic. What are your thoughts, 52 years on?
Photos from Getty as indicated