The marriage of Harald and Sonja of Norway on August 29th 1968 was a groundbreaking royal wedding. But the bride chose some very traditional blooms for her bouquet while the church where she said ‘I do’ was decked with popular flowers and foliage.
As Sonja Haraldsen walked into Oslo Cathedral, she carried a bouquet of white flowers arranged in a simple design. Amongst her posy were freesias, roses, orchids and lilies of the valley. In the language of flowers, beloved of her future husband’s great great grandmother Queen Victoria, they all had rather suitable meanings.
Lily of the valley, one of the most traditional of all bridal flowers, symbolises a return to happiness while freesias are taken to mean innocence and friendship. The white roses in Sonja’s bouquet denote purity, but it was perhaps the orchids which seemed most appropriate. They signify love, beauty and strength, a characteristic that had been shown by both the bride and groom during the nine years of their relationship. For Harald and Sonja had faced objection to their union as the bride had no blue blood. They had held firm and finally won approval with their wedding celebrated in front of 850 guests including many members of European royalty.
They sat in a cathedral decked out in more traditional nuptial blooms. Around the 17th century church were more roses and freesias while the decorations also included gladioli which signify infatuation and passion as well as being the flower of August. Sweet peas, which mean blissful pleasure, scented Oslo Cathedral on the wedding day while Sonja had also selected marguerites to deck the church. A form of the daisy, it signifies love, but it is also the bloom associated with the Norse goddess, Freya, who was linked to love, beauty, and fertility.
Fifty years on, there are plenty of people ready to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of Harald and Sonja of Norway. The flowers they chose for their celebrations became the backdrop to a ceremony which was the start of a successful and very happy marriage.