Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner, elder sister of King Harald V of Norway, celebrates her 90th birthday today, 12 February 2022. The big day will according to the court be celebrated privately.
Princess Astrid was born at Villa Solbakken in Aker (now a part of Oslo municipality) on 12 February 1932 at 4.36 a.m. as the second daughter of the then Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha. Her elder sister Ragnhild was born on 9 June 1930, while her younger brother Harald was born on 21 February 1937. At the time of birth the Crown Prince family lived at the Villa Solbakken residence, which was owned by the Stang family, because the construction of the Skaugum residence was burnt down in 1930. Princess Astrid, whose full name is Astrid Maud Ingeborg, was christened at the Royal Palace Chapel in Oslo on 31 March 1937. She was borne to the baptismal font by Queen Maud. Bishop Johan Lunde performed the ceremony. The sponsors were King Haakon VII, Queen Maud, Prince Carl of Sweden, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden Crown Princess Astrid of Belgium (the Duchess of Brabant, later Queen Astrid of Belgium), the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth), Princess Thyra of Denmark, Prince Eugen of Sweden and Prince George of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (later Duke of Kent). Not all were present, though.
Princess Astrid grew up at Skaugum in Asker and spent 5 years in exile with her mother and siblings during WW2. She graduated from Nissen School for girls (both lower and upper seconary school) in 1950 and later studied economics and political history for two years at Oxford. Later she learnt dressmaking at the Märtha School and cooking at the Lolly Ræstad Housekeeping School. She also followed her interest in handicraft by among others being an apprentice with Halvor Sandø's pottery at Røa in Oslo.
Princess Astrid married 12 January 1961 Johan Martin Ferner (1927-2015), youngest son of Ferner Jacobsen and Ragnhild Olsen. The union met some opposition at the time because Mr. Ferner had been married once before and was a divorcé. Upon marriage she ceased to be a Royal Highness (but is still using the style HH/Highness while abroad) and was referred to as Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner. She also had to give up her appanage. The happy marriage gave five children. As of today she has 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
Princess Astrid served as first lady following the death of Crown Princess Märtha in 1954 and until her brother Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. She still make several official engagements each year and is an active patron of several organisations, being particularly devoted to activities relating to children and adolescents with dyslexia and intellectual/learning disabilities.
Two major biographies have been published about Princess Astrid:
- Rosenberg, Brita. Astrid. Prinsesse av Norge, Oslo: Stromboli, 1988. ISBN 8290548265
- Isaksen, Trond Norén. Kvinne blant konger. En biografi om prinsesse Astrid, Oslo: Damm, 2007. ISBN 9788204136756.
Isaksen published a seven pages long article about Princess Astgrid in the magazine Se og Hør earlier this week and appeared at the TV news channel today to talk about the princess and her anniversary.