Norway · Pocket Profiles

Pocket Profile – Princess Astrid of Norway

Note: A big thank you to Elizabeth Davies for this Pocket Profile, done to commemorate the Classic Princess of Norway dropping out of the top 100 in line for the British throne.

Astrid at 80

I’m sure the lady herself is totally unconcerned, but with the birth of the Sussexes little girl Lil Mountbatten-Windsor, “Auntie Astrid” gets knocked out of the top 100 people in the Line of Succession to the throne of Great Britain. But who is Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner?

Princess Astrid was born on 12th February 1932, as the middle child of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway (nee Princess Märtha of Sweden). She had an older sister, Ragnhild, and a younger brother Harald, now HM King Harald V. Her grandfather father King Haakon VII announced that she would be given the name Astrid Maud Ingeborg. She was named after her aunt, Queen Astrid of Belgium, and her two grandmothers, Queen Maud of Norway and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden. 

Ragnhild, Olav, Astrid and Harald grouped round Märtha.

As the second daughter behind a brother, Astrid would not have expected a central role in the Norwegian royal family. However, first her sister Ragnhild married Erling Lorentzen and moved abroad to live with him and raise her family in Brazil

Princess Ragnhild’s wedding 1953. 

Astrid standing to the left of her sister.

Then, a year later in 1954, her mother Crown Princess Märtha died of cancer. So, the 22-year-old Princess Astrid assumed the role of First Lady. She also took on the responsibility for Crown Princess Märtha’s Memorial Fund, which remains a key focus of her activities to this day.

Princess Astrid attended major celebrations around the country, either accompanying the King and Crown Prince or alone as the representative of the Royal Family. During official state visits and similar events she acted as hostess for banquets held at the Royal Palace and Skaugum Estate. After the death of King Haakon, Princess Astrid accompanied King Olav on his consecration tours.

The Princess continued as First Lady until 1968, when then Crown Prince Harald married Miss Sonja Haraldsen.  

Norwegian and Danish royals 1958.

Above is a family photo, during a State visit from the Danish Royal family, including her Aunt, Queen Ingrid, with young Margrethe on the right. Astrid is recycling the gown she wore for her father’s Inauguration, minus the jacket worn in church.

Astrid as first lady.

In this photo Astrid acted as hostess to the Shah and Empress of Iran. Look closely at her gown. 

We know most royal ladies, despite what is sometimes written, frequently recycle their clothes. Astrid is the only one I know of who was seen again in her wedding gown! Yes, this is her wedding gown, with the bodice remodeled.

The bride

Wasn’t she stunning?

Wedding group

In 1961, Astrid married divorced commoner Johan Ferner. They went on to have five children together – Cathrine, born 1962; Benedikte, born 1963; Alexander, born 1965; Elisabeth, born 1969 and finally Carl-Christian, born 1972. 

8Astrid’s family

Family photo of Princess Astrid and her husband Johan Ferner (back row, center persons) and their children, from oldest to youngest: Catherine (standing left) Benedikte (standing right) and sitting left to right are Alexander, Elisabeth and the youngest Carl-Christian (goes by Christian).

Her children are all private citizens and take no part in royal duties or State occasions, although they obviously attend large family events. Johan Ferner passed away, aged 88, in 2015.

Astrid on her 40th Birthday

Astrid has continued to serve her country and support King Harald and Queen Sonja in their duties. On her 70th birthday, she was awarded an honorary pension in recognition of all her efforts on behalf of Norway both during and following her years as first lady. 

A family portrait to celebrate Astrid’s 80th Birthday in 2012. Princess Ragnhild and her husband on the left, the King and Queen on the right.

Astrid and some of her family at the Silver Jubilee Party for King Harald V in 2016.

Not only has Princess Astrid dropped off the British line of succession, she is also not entitled to succeed to the throne of Norway. But we still love her anyway! Long may she live and thrive!

Feel free to drop your favourite Astrid photos in the comments!