27 January 2015

Royal Wedding of the Week: January 27

Princess Astrid of Norway, daughter of King Olav V and sister of the current king, married Johan Martin Ferner on January 12, 1961. As I mentioned in Sunday's post, Mr. Ferner passed away on January 24th, not long after the couple marked 54 years of marriage. Today, a look back at their Norwegian winter wedding.
Princess Astrid's older sister Princess Ragnhild caused her share of controversy in 1953 by marrying a commoner, and Astrid then doubled up by marrying a commoner who also happened to be divorced. The couple shared a social circle and bonded over their love of sailing (Ferner was an Olympic medalist in the sport) but they had to wait to make things official. When they finally did, they got married in Asker with a recently retired bishop presiding, as there were many in the church that refused to marry a divorced person.
It was a cold and snowy winter wedding, and the bride arrived and left with a short fur coat to keep her warm. The dress underneath featured a skirt with wide bands of silver embroidered lace and a lace top with long sleeves. A fingertip veil in tulle was topped with a small crown headpiece that appears to have been made from the same style lace. The bride also wore a pair of pearl earrings and a triple strand pearl necklace.

The dress seems very much of its time, and is lacking in many of the grand features that usually set a royal wedding gown apart, like a big train or a long veil. This was a more practical choice, and Princess Astrid later took advantage of that practicality by removing the long sleeves and reusing it as a gala dress. (An exhibit in 2011 showed the dress in its final design alongside the wedding gowns of Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Märtha Louise.)
The groom's entrance into the family may have come with some fuss over his first marriage, but soon enough the controversy faded away. In the end, Johan Martin Ferner was not a well known member of the Norwegian royal family by choice. He focused on running his family's business, a department store in Oslo, while his wife carried on with her royal duties. He seems to have been the model of discretion, a quality in today's world that's well worth a little initial controversy.

Photos: Ray Bellisario/Popperfoto via Getty Images, NRK video, Kongehuset