For almost nine years, the current king harald of norway fought for his love to sonja haraldsen. The burgerliche was everything else than standesgemab, the love of the two a scandal. But harald didn’t want anyone else – and got his sonja. On 29. August celebrates the couple’s golden wedding anniversary.
50 years after the word of consent, the world looks very different in the european aristocracy. Whether it’s kate, meghan, prince daniel or queen maxima – marriages with commoners are now quite normal in the royal households.
But there are exceptions: king philippe of belgium and his wife mathilde, for example. "As a countess, mathilde was of course also not really ebenburtig," says konigshauspertin leontine grafin von schmettow. Philippe, however, was one of the few of his generation to marry nobly. "A partner from another royal or princely house would be truly befitting the status quo."
Even in ordinary families, weddings used to be not so much about love. In the high nobility actually not at all. When kings and their children married, other things were important – maintaining power, diplomatic alliances, or expanding a territory, for example. Many an heir to the throne was surprised to see what a princess was brought to his palace.
But today, when monarchs actually no longer have political influence, other things pay off. A good education, for example, the potential to fulfill the role well, social commitment – and, of course, love, says von schmettow. The bride or the groom should be discreet, diplomatic and aware of the protocol.
"Harald knew that sonja would fit the role well," says the konigshaus expert. The then crown prince and the educated daughter of an entrepreneur met in 1959. Marriage actually ruled out. "Harald faced really strong opposition, eventually even threatening not to accept the throne," von schmettow explains. Eventually, the father, king olaf V, agreed., and informed the government. At the wedding in august 1968, however, there was no big royal turnout – many boycotted the celebration.
But from then on, many things changed in the konigshausern. Silvia sommerlath from heidelberg became a member of the nobility when she married king carl XVI. Gustaf in 1976 queen of sweden. Carl gustaf simply waited until he was king – and then gave himself permission to marry the bourgeois german, says historian and author leonhard horowski ("the europe of kings"). From then on almost only burghers married into the palace.
The trend toward love marriages is also changing the structures of the kings’ households: while most of them used to be very international – and linked to each other by marriages of convenience – many now marry partners from their own country. "They are less international and drifting apart," horowski explains.
Not everyone likes it. "Interestingly, the german aristocracy, which has no power and whose status has been abolished, has a hard time with it," says von schmettow. There are certain circles that look with suspicion on the development in the konigshausern. "Some people find this too rough an approach to the people."Many german dynasties had given themselves house laws at the time, says historian horowski. "And they still apply today."
And even if marriages with burghers have become quite normal, there is always something wrong with the chosen ones. For example, maxima, now queen of the netherlands: her father, the argentinean jorge zorreguieta, was controversial because of his role in the military dictatorship – and was not allowed to attend his daughter’s wedding to willem-alexander.
Duchess meghan also faced fierce headwinds before her wedding to prince harry. Divorced, african-american origin, actress – critics found much to criticize. "The entire past is being examined," says von schmettow.
So the norwegians went again – decades after the scandalous wedding of sonja and harald. The fact that crown prince hakon’s wife mette-marit was a burgher no longer played a role at all. But the norwegians again went a step ahead in the matter of modern family and accepted mette-marit. "An illegitimate child and a wild party past, that was a new challenge," says von schmettow. But after they got to know each other, the king supported his son in asserting his partner in public, as the expert describes. "Of course he has to be careful that the monarchy doesn’t suffer any damage – but he is also a father and knows the situation very well."
How exactly the family celebrated its 50th birthday. The question of who spends their wedding day with whom remains unclear. But one thing is certain: in the afternoon, the royal couple will host a church service in oslo cathedral, which will be broadcast live on television. In addition to the invited guests, 200 citizens were allowed to be present in the church. You could register by e-mail. Very close to the people.