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Harald and Sonja - The Royal Wedding

Thursday, 29th August 1968. The long-awaited day had finally come: for decades, since 1929, Oslo had been expecting for a grand royal wedding, even because the weddings of Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid were relatively discreet events. Like most of the Scandinavian royal weddings, the wedding of Crown Prince Harald and Miss Sonja Haraldsen had a special touch of glamour, set by the gala attires and jewels worn by women to the ceremony and subsequent banquet and ball at the Royal Palace. The streets of the Norwegian capital were decorated as they had not been for many years: Norwegian flags and wedding banners and other decorations relating to the couple had flooded Oslo in the days prior to the wedding. Since it was a full state event, the streets of the capital through which the cortege would pass on the early evening, were lined by 2800 servicemen from the three services of the Armed Forces, as all the preparations were brought to a close and as thousands of people started to line the streets to watch the proceedings.

Members of the King’s Troop prepare to line the streets of Oslo, the day of the wedding of Crown Prince Harald and Miss Sonja Haraldsen. Around 2800 soldiers from the Army, Navy and Air Force lined the streets of the capital through which the cortege passed.

The sober but elegant Cathedral of Oslo was adorned with beautiful arrangements of white flowers around the altar and through the nave, remaining, nevertheless, a rather discreet setting. Outside the Cathedral, a red canopy in a somewhat modern design, covering the red carpet that conducted to the main door of the temple, had been installed, giving the scene a rather solemn look, in contrast with the simplicity of the façade. Inside, while television cameras were prepared to broadcast the wedding to the nation, some of the 1000 guests began arriving, respecting the dress code: men in uniform or white tie with decorations and women in long evening attires with their jewels, in most cases the most fantastic ones.

Several heads of state and members of the European Royal Families, as well the members of the Norwegian Royal Family and the members of Miss Haraldsen’s family, arrived in a cortege of nineteen cars just after the procession that brought Crown Prince Harald and his supporter, Count Flemming of Rosenborg, son of Princess Margaretha of Denmark and the late Prince Axel, to the Cathedral. The Crown Prince, who was immensely cheered as he made his way from the Palace to the Cathedral and especially on his arrival to the temple, wore the black gala uniform of the Norwegian Army, with the sash of the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav with star, the star of the Swedish Order of the Seraphim and the star of the Danish Order of the Elephant. As he waited for Miss Haraldsen inside, cameras showed him with some signs of nervousness and anxiety which was to be broken some minutes later. Count Flemming of Rosenborg, in his Danish naval uniform, also wore the sash of the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav with star and the star of the Danish Order of the Elephant.

His Majesty The King of Norway arrives at the Cathedral of Oslo with his future daughter-in-law, Miss Sonja Haraldsen. The fact that The King conducted Miss Haraldsen to the altar was interpreted as a sign of her acceptance by him and the Royal Family.

Heralded in press as perhaps the most significant fact of the wedding, it was the King of Norway that conducted the bride to the altar. Obviously the sad circumstance that the father of Miss Haraldsen had died provided that this would happen, but the solution could also have been another one, even because it was thought it would be Miss Haraldsen’s brother to conduct her to the altar. There was, thus, significance in the fact, because the King had been, perhaps involuntarily, the visible part of the opposition to the wedding of his son with Miss Haraldsen for almost an entire decade. This move was largely interpreted as the final seal of approval of the King to this marriage but also as a sign of reconciliation within the Royal Family. To many it might have been surprising that the King conducted his future daughter-in-law to the altar, but the sense, more than surprise was of real happiness, expressed in Miss Haraldsen’s radiant smile as she acknowledged the cheers down the Karl Johans Gate, the most elegant of all the boulevards of Oslo, and remarkably on her arrival to the Cathedral, on board the open car, with the King.

The King of Norway, like his son, wore the gala uniform of the Norwegian Army with sword, with the red, white and blue sash of the Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav with star, the star of the Swedish Order of the Seraphim and the star of the Danish Order of the Elephant. Around his neck the King wore the Grand Commander Cross of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog, incrusted with diamonds. The King sat on the left of the uncovered car that brought him and Miss Haraldsen to the Cathedral of Oslo. On his right, the bride had chosen an extremely simple dress and had chosen not to wear a tiara.

Read more and see pictures of Miss Sonja Haraldsen’s Wedding Dress

See more pictures of the wedding ceremony and corteges

Above, His Majesty The King of Norway prepares to leave Miss Sonja Haraldsen, the future Crown Princess of Norway, at the altar Cathedral of Oslo with his son, Crown Prince Harald. The King awaits that the train of Miss Haraldsen’s dress is correctly placed to return to his seat, next to her mother, Mrs. Dagny Haraldsen. Below, the Crown Prince and his bride during their wedding ceremony.

The highest moment of emotion came as King Olav took Miss Haraldsen up the aisle of the Cathedral, to the sound of Henry Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune and Air”, played from the high quire. The scene was rather magnificent, with the thousand of guests bowing and curtseying to His Majesty as he passed by, with his future daughter-in-law, the future Crown Princess of Norway, on his arm. The long evening gowns, the jewels and the decorations gave the whole scene some mystical look, especially near the altar, where hundreds of white flowers had been placed. While a red and gold cloth covered the altar, the kneeler around it was covered with flowers and had a golden and cream cloth placed where the Crown Prince and his then wife would be kneeling during the ceremony.

Four chairs had been placed, two on the left and two on the right of the altar, facing each other, where the King and Mrs. Dagny Haraldsen, on the right of the altar, and the Crown Princess and his bride, on the left, would took their places. Behind the King and Miss Haraldsen’s mother took place most of the royal guests, including the King and Queen of Denmark, the King of the Belgians and the Grand-Duke and Grand-Duchess of Luxembourg. Other guests, including the King of Sweden, the President of Finland, Princess Margrethe and Prince Henrik of Denmark sat behind the Crown Prince and his bride.

Like all the Lutheran wedding ceremonies, this one, conducted by Dr. Fridtjov Birkeli, Bishop of Oslo, was extremely brief and simple, simplicity only broken by the magnificent music played in the Cathedral by the “Den Norske Studentersangforening” (The Norwegian Student Choir) and a famous opera singer Aase Nordmo Løvberg. The ceremony began by the psalm “Herre Gud, ditt dyre navn og ære”, sang by the choir, and continued with the congregation singing Bernt Støylen's psalm “Til kjærleik Gud oss skapte, til kjærleik hjarta trår”. It was then time for the address of the Bishop of Oslo, at the end of which Dr. Birkeli said that “a new and very strong link has been created between the royal family and the Norwegian people”. Afterwards, the most solemn and most expected moment of the ceremony came as the couple approaches the altar to be married by the Bishop. After pledging love and fidelity to each other, kneeling to receive the blessing and exchanging the rings, the new Crown Princess of Norway curtseyed profoundly to her father-in-law, the King of Norway, and returned with her husband to their seats.

Above, a magnificent view of the High Altar of the Cathedral of Oslo, during the wedding of HRH The Crown Prince of Norway and Miss Sonja Haraldsen. The Bishop of Oslo, wearing a golden cope, faces the altar, profusely decorated with white flowers. The bride and the bridegroom sit on the left of the later, facing HM The King of Norway and Mrs. Dagny Haraldsen. On the second picture, after bowing to the King and the Crown Princess’ mother, the new Crown Princely couple prepare to leave the Cathedral of Oslo.

The ceremony continued with a reading from the Bible and a prayer, followed by the Blessing by the Bishop of Oslo. The famous Norwegian singer Aase Nordmo Løvberg then sang Grundtvig's psalm “Alt står i Guds Faderhånd”, which brought the ceremony to a close. To the sound of one of Johann Sebastian Bach's tunes, TRH The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway bowed and curtsied to His Majesty The King, and made their way down the nave of the Cathedral, amidst the bows and curtseys of the whole assembly and followed by the bridesmaids, Miss Ian Henriksen, Miss Anita Henriksen, Miss Ingeborg Lorentzen and Miss Lis Haraldsen, the Prince’s supporter, Count Flemming of Rosenborg, and Princess Sonja’s maid of honour, Ilmi Riddervold. Outside the Cathedral bells were ringing and canon blasts were heard to signal the triumph of love and to salute the new Crown Princess.

The King and Crown Princess Sonja’s mother followed them down the nave and watched, with the other royal guests, as the couple departed the Cathedral in an open car, being cheered by an estimated crowd of a hundred thousand people, through the streets of Oslo until the Royal Palace, an impressive yellow building at the top of the most elegant avenue of Oslo, the Karl Johans gate. A long cortege of cars followed, bringing all the royal guests to the Palace for the banquet and ball.

Above, the royal couple leaves the Cathedral of Oslo hand in hand, followed by the bridesmaids and their attendants, HE Count Flemming of Rosenborg and Ilmi Riddervold, and by HM The King of Norway, with Mrs. Haraldsen. On the second picture, the cortege of the royal couple through the streets of Oslo, decorated with hundreds of Norwegian flags and lined by servicemen of the three branches of the Armed Forces.

After their glorious cortege through Oslo, the royal couple entered the Royal Palace at around 7 pm and afterwards appeared on the balcony of the Palace, much to delight of the enormous crowd gathered outside, who had not seen something like that for many years, since the weddings of the Prince’s sisters, Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid, were held more discreetly. King Olav V joined the couple on the balcony, again to great pleasure of the crowd.

Afterwards, inside the Palace, the official pictures and the family pictures of the wedding were made, and the royal couple and the King of Norway received compliments from the guests, before the start of the state banquet offered by the King to his guests. The banquet took place in the grand dining room, where, at the main table, decorated with pink roses, sat the new royal couple, the King of Norway on the right of the new Crown Princess, Princess Margaretha of Denmark of the left of Crown Prince Harald and the heads of state invited to the ceremony. During the banquet, both HM The King, HRH The Crown Prince and the President of the Storting pronounced speeches.

See pictures of the banquet and ball and read the speech of HRH The Crown Prince of Norway

TRH The Crown Prince and The Crown Princess of Norway appear on the balcony of the yellow Royal Palace of Oslo, and are loudly cheered by a large crowd gathered in front of the Palace, just after the wedding ceremony in the Cathedral of Oslo.

After the end of the banquet came one of the most awaited moments of the day, in the beautiful ballroom of the Royal Palace of Oslo. To the sound of a waltz specially composed for the occasion, Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja opened the wedding ball, shining in the middle of their guests and with all the attentions over them. Some moments later, their guests joined them in what would be the most glittering finale to a most spectacular day, and a very important one in Norwegian royal history.

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