Princess Astrid at 90: Temporary First Lady of Norway

astrid norway
ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Princess Astrid of Norway was born on 12 February 1932 as the second daughter of King Olav V (then Crown Prince) and his wife, Crown Princess Märtha of Norway (born of Sweden). She was baptised with the names Astrid Maud Ingeborg for her aunt Queen Astrid of Belgium (born of Sweden) and her two grandmothers Queen Maud (born of Wales) and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden. While Norway currently practises absolute primogeniture, it did not at the time of her birth, and Astrid was never in the line of the Norwegian succession. However, owing to her descent from King Edward VII’s daughter Maud, she is distantly in line to the British throne. She had an elder sister named Ragnhild, who died in 2012, and her younger brother is the current King Harald V.

Astrid grew up with her siblings on Skaugum in Asker, but the family was forced to flee from the German invasion on 9 April 1940. She had been receiving a private education at home until then. Astrid, her siblings and her mother managed to reach safety in Sweden and eventually went to the United States, while her grandfather King Haakon VII and her father Crown Prince Olav stayed in London. Astrid lived in the outskirts of Washington DC until the peace was declared in 1945, and the family was able to be reunited.

After the war, Astrid enrolled at the Nissen Girls’ School and graduated in 1950. She went on to study social economics and political history at Oxford for two years. She also learned dressmaking at Märthaskolen and cooking at Lolly Ræstad’s household school. Her mother tragically died in 1954, and when her father became King in 1957, Astrid became the acting first lady of Norway. Her elder sister Ragnhild had married commoner Erling Lorentzen in 1953 and subsequently moved to Brazil. Astrid began to lead the HRH Crown Princess Märtha’s Memorial Fund, which is still central in her work today.

Astrid often accompanied her father the King, and her brother the Crown Prince, during official royal engagements. Astrid, too, would marry a non-royal man and perhaps even more controversially, he was also divorced. His name was Johan Martin Ferner, and he was a businessman. Despite the reservations, her father gave his blessing for the marriage.

On 12 January 1961, Astrid married Johan at Asker Church and became known as Her Highness Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner. The couple went on to have five children together: Cathrine (born 1962), Benedikte (born 1963), Alexander (born 1965), Elisabeth (born 1969) and Carl-Christian (born 1972). Astrid continued her duties as the first lady until her brother married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. Astrid later told Familien magazine about her time as the first lady, “I have become acquainted with many competent, delightful people in this way, and I have gained a great deal of valuable knowledge.” Astrid was widowed in 2015.

Astrid still carries out the occasional royal duty despite her age. She places a special emphasis on causes that protect the most vulnerable in society. She still enjoys sports and the outdoor life. Her 80th birthday was celebrated with a gala banquet, though this seems unlikely to happen this year.1

  1. The Norwegian Royal House

About Moniek Bloks 2489 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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