Royals head for Stockholm

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Most of Norway’s royal family was heading for Stockholm this week, for Saturday’s wedding of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and her longtime sweetheart Daniel Westling (photo). Even Norway’s little Princess Ingrid Alexandra was set to take part, as a brudepike (flower girl), while the wedding itself set off some debate over whether brides should be “given away” by their fathers.

Swedish newspaper Expressen reported Wednesday that Princess Ingrid Alexandra, heir to Norway’s throne, will be among 10 small European princes and princesses who will take part in the Swedish royal wedding. Crown Princess Victoria is one of Princess Ingrid Alexandra’s godmothers, and the Swedish and Norwegian royal families have close ties.

Crown Princess Victoria, meanwhile, wants her father, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, to walk her up the aisle when she marries in what’s being billed as the “wedding of the year” in Europe. That led to an unusual protest from the state church in Sweden, which wants to promote women’s rights and equality by having brides either walk up the aisle alone or along with their husbands-to-be.

Even Swedish Archbishop Anders Wejryd, who will perform the royal wedding ceremony, cautioned Crown Princess Victoria against breaking a tradition symbolizing Sweden’s equality between the sexes, but she held firm. She wants her father by her side.

So do many Norwegian brides in a country every bit as conscious of sexual equality as Sweden, but the Norwegian church isn’t enthusiastic about Victoria’s decision, either. 

“It’s a paradox, that after years of women’s liberation, we’re seeing more of the old tradition of fathers ‘giving away’ their daughters,” theologian Merete Thomassen told newspaper Aftenposten recently. At her seminary, couples getting married are advised to walk up the aisle together.

“I think it should be clear that it’s a problem that a father escorts the bride,” Thomassen said. “The couple is equal, the woman shouldn’t be given away by one man to another man.”

Pastor Dag Iversen at Torshov Church in Oslo told Aftenposten that especially mature couples and those already living together should confirm their relationship by walking to the alter together. A marriage, he argues, is “no longer a deal between two men (father and groom) or two families.”

Most couples agree, but even the most liberated women still tend to want their fathers by their side on their wedding day, out of love, respect or gratitude, or simply tradition.

“For me, it was completely natural that my father should lead me to the alter,” said recent bride Linn Berntsen. “It’s a fine and nice tradition.

“Today’s women are strong and secure in the decisions they make,” she added. “This is just tradition and symbolism.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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