24 January 2015

Johan Martin Ferner (1927-2015)

Johan Martin Ferner, husband of Princess Astrid Mrs. Ferner and brother-in-law of King Harald V of Norway, died early in the morning today, 24 January 2015, at Rikshospitalet (the National Hospital), Oslo, the Royal Court has announced. The time of death was stated as 05.25. Ferner was last seen in public at his youngest son's wedding in October 2014, and looked rather frail.

In his condolences King Harald says that "It is with deep sadness that we have received the news that Johan Martin Ferner has passed away. Our thoughts go to Princess Astrid and her family, who have lost a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather".

Johan Martin was born at the Red Cross Clinic at Frogner in Oslo on 22 July 1927 as the youngest son and child of clothes shopkeeper Ferner Jacobsen (1885-1964), from Nøtterøy outside Tønsberg, and Ragnhild Ferner Jacobsen, née Olsen (1889-1966), who came from Tromøy, which today is a part of Arendal municipality. According to the midwife's birth report to the Oslo Health Council, Johan Martin was born at 9.30 in the evening with Ragna Huser as midwife. Johan Martin's siblings were Inger (1913-1972) and Finn-Christian Ferner (1920-2001).

By the Ministry of Justice and Police's grant of 21 November 1927 Johan Martin Ferner and his siblings were given the right to adopt their father's given name Ferner as their surname. The grant published in Norsk Kundgjørelsestidende said:
Ved Justisdepartementets bevilling av 21. november 1927 er kjøpmann Ferner Jacobsen og hustru Ragnhild Jacobsens barn Inger, Finn Christian Ferner og Johan Martin Ferner, Oslo meddelt tillatelse til å anta navnet Ferner som slektsnavn.
("By the Ministry of Justice's grant of 21 November 1927 shopkeeper Ferner Jacobsen and wife Ragnhild Jacobsen's children Inger, Finn Christian Ferner and Johan Martin Ferner, Oslo, were given permission to adopt Ferner as surname.")

 The grant published in Norsk Kundgjørelsestidende 25 November 1927 No. 295, p. 1.

One could get the impression that the sons already had the name Ferner as their third given name, but only the names Johan Martin were registered at birth.

After graduation from the private Vestheim (high) school at Frogner, Oslo in 1947, Ferner followed a course at Oslo Handelsgymnasium (Oslo Business College) before heading on to business studies at the London Polytechnic Institute, Bradford Technical College and the University of Lyon. He then worked at Harrods in London before returning to Oslo to work for his father's company clothers shop Ferner Jacobsen AS in Stortingsgata (Parliament Street). He worked his way up in the company before taking over the ranks together with his brother Finn-Christian in 1964. Johan Martin's youngest son Carl-Christian (b. 1972) is today the executive chairman of the board.

Johan Martin Ferner was for many years an active yachtman and took a silver medal (Six Metre Class) in sailing at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.

In 1953 Johan Martin Ferner married Ingeborg Hesselberg-Meyer (1931-1997). The marriage ended in divorce in December 1956. Ferner and Princess Astrid had been part of the same social sircle since the early 1950s and after his divorce their friendship gradually developed into a relationship. King Olav finally gave in and gave consent to marriage and their engagement was announced on 13 November 1960. The wedding took place in Asker Church on 12 January 1961 (the mariage banns at Oslo domkirke (Oslo Cathedral) can be read here (no. 75)). The couple had 5 children: Cathrine, b. 1962, Benedikte, b. 1963, Alexander, b. 1965, Elisabeth, b. 1969 and Carl-Christian, b. 1972, and 5 grandchildren.

The court has so far not informed about the funeral arrangements and where Johan Martin Ferner's last resting place will be. The Ferner family grave is at Vestre gravlund (Western Cemetery) in Oslo, but I would not be surprised if Ferner was interred at Ris Churchyard instead. Johan Martin Ferner and Princess Astrid have for many years lived at Gråkammen in Oslo in the parish of Ris (their former home at Vindern was also in the same parish). Princess Astrid's sister Princess Ragnhild is buried at  Asker Cemetery.

The Ferner family grave at Vestre gravlund (Western cemetery) in Oslo.

Updated on Saturday 24 January 2015 at 9 p.m. (last article was modified); Saturday 24 January 2015 at 9.10 p.m. (my translation of condolences replaced with the court's own version, link added); Monday 26 january 2015 at 09.35 (reference in image of name change byline corrected from "395" to "295"), Monday 26 January 2015 at 19.30 (typo corrected); Thursday 28 May 2015 at 21.55 (typo corrected).

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