SWEDISH feminists and the Lutheran church have become unlikely allies in an attempt to prevent a princess having the wedding of her dreams.
The Church of Sweden and the Swedish royal family have clashed over Crown Princess Victoria’s wish to be “given away” by her father, King Carl Gustaf, at her marriage to her former personal trainer, Daniel Westling, in Stockholm next month before a guest list studded with the kings, queens, princes and princesses of Europe’s remaining royal houses.
Sweden is one of the most equality-conscious countries on earth, and the official church has long disapproved of the symbolism of brides “ being given away”, regarding the practice – as does most of the populace – as an outdated and sexist tradition.
So when Princess Victoria let it be known earlier this week that she was breaking with Swedish tradition – the bride and groom walking down the aisle together – and wished to have her father at her side to “give her away”, the head of the Swedish church, Archbishop Anders Wejryd, soon voiced his disapproval in public.
“Being given away,” he declared, “is a new phenomenon which occasionally occurs in the Church of Sweden. I usually advise against it, as our marriage ceremony is so clear on the subject of the spouses’ equality.”
The couple, whom Archbishop Wejryd will marry on June 19th, were aware of his views on the matter, he said.
As Swedish feminists blogged on newspaper sites here denouncing, as one put it, “the antiquated symbolism of the woman being owned by a man, be it her father or her husband”, a spokeswoman for the royal court said that the decision was entirely up to Princess Victoria herself.
Nina Eldh suggested that the symbolism in this case was that of the king ” leading the heir to the nation’s throne to the altar – and to the man who has been accepted”.
Priest and theologian Annika Borg described the practice of being given away as “unSwedish and a import from American films and TV series”. “I think it is a pity that Sweden’s future head of state has chosen to follow a practice that is not Swedish tradition,” she added.
Historians, too, have entered the fray as the media relishes the latest episode of its own royal wedding soap opera whose highlights have dwelt on the extravagance and cost to the taxpayer – somewhat defused by a announcement from the king that he would foot half his daughter’s wedding bill (at least 20 million kronor or €2.04 million) with the rest borne by taxpayers.
It also by some commentators that when Victoria’s parents, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married in 1973 they followed Swedish tradition and walked the aisle together.