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Harald and Sonja - The Guests to the Royal Wedding

Political, family and personal circumstances provided that the royal guest list for the wedding of Crown Prince Harald of Norway and Miss Sonja Haraldsen was smaller than expected and smaller than the guest list to other similar events in Europe, most remarkably the weddings held in those previous years in Denmark (Princess Margrethe in June 1967 and Princess Benedikte in February 1968), the Netherlands (Princess Beatrix in 1966), Greece (King Constantine in 1964 and Princess Sofia in 1962) and Belgium (King Baudouin in 1960).

Nevertheless, six heads of state (four monarchs and two presidents) attended the Norwegian Royal Wedding and joined some other members of European Royal Houses in the Cathedral of Oslo. In an impressive uniform and bicorn and wearing the sash of the Order of St. Olav, HM King Frederik IX of Denmark, accompanied by his wife, HM Queen Ingrid, were the last to arrive at the Cathedral, accordingly to precedence rules. The Danish Queen was extremely elegant in a pale blue evening dress, covered by a long coat of the same colour, and wore the blue sash of the Danish Order of the Elephant. The relationship between the Danish and the Norwegian Royal Family was excellent, given the closeness of family ties and of the two countries’ borders. The grandfather of Crown Prince Harald, King Haakon VII – the first King of independent Norway – was himself born Prince Carl of Denmark, and King Haakon’s mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, was also born Princess of Denmark. In addition, Queen Ingrid had been born, like Crown Princess Märtha, a Princess of Sweden and their relationship was very close.

HM King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden who arrived accompanied by HRH Princess Margaretha of Denmark, born Princess of Sweden and sister of the late Crown Princess Märtha, had preceded the Danish sovereigns. The late wife of King Olav was the family link that had managed to have tensions between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Norway and their respective Royal Families forgotten. The wedding, in 1929, of Crown Prince Olav and Princess Märtha of Sweden had been delayed several years due to the fact that the independence had resulted in a frozen relationship between the two Royal Families. But the new Crown Princess of Norway’s charisma and charm undoubtedly conquered the Norwegians. The King of Sweden wore the red, blue and white sash of the Order of St. Olav over his uniform, while Princess Margaretha wore a long purple coat over her beige dress.

On the left, HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands, husband of HRH Princess Beatrix, heiress presumptive to the Dutch throne, waits for the arrival of his car in front of the Cathedral of Oslo. Princess Beatrix did not attend due to her pregnancy and the Prince escorted Countess Ruth of Rosenborg, wife of Count Flemming who acted as supporter to Crown Prince Harald. In the top of the stairs are TRH Princess Margrethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark. On the left, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Princess Margaretha of Denmark and the King of the Belgians look on as the King and the Queen of Denmark regally come down the stairs that led to the Cathedral.

HM King Baudouin I of the Belgians, wearing gala uniform and the sash of the Order of St. Olav, attended alone, without Queen Fabiola, whose absence did not go unnoticed in the gossipy press. The family ties between the Belgian and the Norwegian Royal Family are as close as the ones the latter as with the Danish or the Swedish. Indeed, King Baudouin was first cousin of Crown Prince Harald since Crown Prince Harald’s mother, Crown Princess Märtha, was the sister of King Baudouin’s mother, Queen Astrid of the Belgians. For the very same reason, the Grand-Ducal family of Luxembourg became close to the Norwegian, since King Leopold III and Queen Astrid’s eldest child, Princess Joséphine-Charlotte, married the Hereditary Grand-Duke Jean of Luxembourg, son of Grand-Duchess Charlotte. Having acceded to the Luxembourg throne in 1964 following the abdication of his mother, TRH Grand-Duke Jean I and Grand-Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, arrived at the Cathedral of Oslo accompanying the King of the Belgians. Before, the Presidents Kekkonen of Finland and Eldjarn of Iceland, accompanied by their respective wives, had arrived.

The event had been due to be attended by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen-Mother of the United Kingdom, a personal friend of King Olav. However, the unexpected death of HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, made the attendance of any member of the British Royal Family impossible. This, of course, despite not only the friendship between the Royal Families but also the close family ties derived from the marriage of the then Princess Maud of Wales to the future King Haakon VII of Norway.

Having no non-reigning families attended (and possibly not been invited), the Spanish Royal Family was not also represented, probably because of the dramatically strange circumstances in Spain, a “kingdom” ruled by a dictator who kept the king “de jure” in exile. The most notable absence was, however, the Greek Royal Family: the political situation in Greece was still chaotic and already in 1967 the sovereigns had not attended Princess Margrethe’s wedding in Denmark, despite the fact that the Queen of Greece was Princess Margrethe’s sister. In 1968, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie were already in exile, although still being the King and the Queen of the Hellenes, as they remained until a referendum was held. For these reasons they were not present at the wedding, nor were Queen Frederika or Princess Irene, once tipped to become Crown Princess of Norway.

HM King Olav leaves the Cathedral of Oslo with the mother of the new Crown Princess of Norway, Mrs. Dagny Haraldsen. Mrs. Haraldsen wore a very elegant beige dress and her discreetness was patent throughout the day. King Olav, who had escorted Miss Sonja Haraldsen up the aisle showing his support for her marriage to his son, wore uniform and the sash of the Order of St. Olav.

HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands, who had married Princess Beatrix in March 1966, represented Queen Juliana alone, although the presence of his wife had been expected. Nevertheless, being heavily pregnant, the Princess remained at home. Prince Claus arrived to the Cathedral accompanied by Countess Ruth of Rosenborg, whose husband, Count Flemming (younger son of Princess Margaretha and the late Prince Axel of Denmark), was supporter to Crown Prince Harald. HRH Princess Margrethe of Denmark, heiress apparent to the Danish throne, arrived with her husband, HRH Prince Henrik, and they were perhaps the most cheered foreign royal guests, given the popularity they had acquired with their majestic wedding, one year before.

Apart of the King of Norway, of course, Crown Prince Harald’s sisters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid were also present with their respective husbands, Mr. Erling Lorentzen and Mr. Johan Martin Ferner. Miss Haraldsen’s family, led by her most elegant mother, Mrs. Dagny Haraldsen, was present. Other royal guests included the eldest son of Princess Margaretha of Denmark, Prince Georg, and his wife Princess Anne, as well as the late Crown Princess Märtha’s brother, Prince Carl Bernardotte, who was accompanied by his daughter, Countess Madeleine Ullens de Schooten, and her first husband, Count Charles Ullens de Schooten. The Government of the Kingdom and the Diplomatic Corps were present at the wedding ceremony and later at the ball in the Royal Palace.

The official photo of the Royal Wedding with the most relevant guests, including the Danish, Swedish, Belgian and Luxembourg sovereigns and the Presidents of Iceland and Finland, the six foreign heads of state that attended.

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