Norwegian Royal Wedding, 52 Years On

King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway celebrated 52 years of marriage on Saturday.

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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.

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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.

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A sweeping, square edged train attached at the shoulders.

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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.

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With guests in gowns and tiaras, the wedding was a glittering affair.

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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 

10 thoughts on “Norwegian Royal Wedding, 52 Years On

  1. I must admit I haven’t seen as many photos of King Harold and Queen Sonja’s wedding. Hat Queen, these are lovely and I appreciate how much you added. I think Sonja’s dress is lovely in its simplicity. I love the high neck and 3/4 length sleeves. The train is the star though, and looks so regal. It reminds me of one of Princess Charlene’s trains that started at her shoulders. I thought her more recent dress and train was lovely, and I think this dress and train are as well. I like the veil, but I would have preferred a different tiara. King Harold looks handsome and so much like CP Haakon.

    I love the backstory to their wedding. It’s wonderful to see two people care so much for one another that they are willing to wait until they get their way. Prince Bertil and Princess Lillian of Sweden were like that, and it makes these romances all the more sweet. I love that they have been married for 52 years and seem so happy and respectful to one another. Congratulations to them both!

  2. Absolutely wonderful! I love the crispness of the zibeline. Sonja looks amazing.

    Happy Anniversary to them! May they have many more!

  3. Thank you HatQueen for this post!
    It’s a bit of a nostalgic journey for MrFitzroy, as my uncle married my aunt about 15 months after this royal ceremony. My aunt-to-be wore a wedding dress that was largely identical! It’s interesting in that this would seem to prove that Royal Wedding gowns have always influenced nuptial fashions — though I hadn’t made this particular connection till quite recently.
    My aunt’s gown did not have the shoulder attached train, and her veil was shoulder length, anchored with a plain flat pink velvet bow…..but the shape of the dress is literally line for line, as is the sumptuousness of the fabric. (Purchased at I.Magnin in San Francisco) They even shared the same ‘flip’ hairstyle.
    This was sort of the last gasp of 1960’s streamlined minimalism before the Victorian pastiche excesses of the seventies took over bridal couture.
    Royal brides have definitely been setting trends going all the way back to Queen Victoria, and this is yet another example!!

  4. This wedding dress embodies Queen Sonja’s style! Clean lines, good fabric, and I really like the understated sleeve detail.
    I always look forward to seeing photos of her! Such an elegant woman. Fashionable, always gorgeous.

  5. I used to find this dress too austere, mostly due to the high neck, but now I appreciate the minimalist look. I’ve never of zibeline — it looks luxurious. The train holds it shape so well, and the back of the skirt flares out beautifully in the picture of them dancing. But a small tiara would have complemented the look better than this headpiece.

    • I agree 100% I never gave this wedding dress a second thought but after seeing it today it’s in my top 10. A lot of dresses are swamped by a huge train but this one looks like a beautiful cape. It’s plainer than a lot of other royal wedding dresses but that’s what makes it so gorgeousl. It has nothing to hide behind.

  6. It’s a stunning look. It’s of its time but recalls later dresses like Máxima’s. It’s structured and stays in shape, and the shoulder train forms an outline for the dress that is really striking. It certainly (IMHO) could have used a tiara to lift it into stellar territory (Josephine’s diamond tiara would have been amazing) but nonetheless it’s a simple, well designed and executed dress that allowed her happiness to shine.

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