The Crown Prince and Princess of Norway on their wedding day, August 25th 2001
One of the most famous royal weddings of the 21st century took place exactly fifteen years ago today. Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby stepped into Oslo Cathedral as a controversial royal fiancee and walked out as the wife of Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and as the future queen of Norway. And she wore a dream of a dress that is still a template for royal wedding gowns today to make her transition to Crown Princess of Norway.
Mette-Marit had undergone plenty of scrutiny on her path to becoming a princess. She had made headlines around the world when announced as the fiancee of the future King of Norway as she was a single mother, with a three year old son, and she had links to the drugs scene in her home country. She made a tearful appearance on Norwegian TV before her wedding where she apologised for her past behaviour and by the time she arrived to marry her handsome prince, her popularity was on the up. But there were big questions about the dress she would wear for this royal in waiting had a very definite style of her own and it didn't seem to match any templates for a regal wedding gown.
But as Mette-Marit appeared at the steps of the cathedral on the arm of her groom, she unveiled a dream of a dress that looked every inch the gown of a queen to be. It was based, partly, on some of the gowns worn by Norway's first queen, Maud. who had been crowned alongside her husband, Haakon VII, in 1905. Almost a century on, the woman who would one day succeed her as a consort took inspiration from the granddaughter of Queen Victoria who had helped re-establish the royal family of Norway.
And the inspiration proved a complete success. Mette-Marit's gown, designed by Ove Harder Finseth, was an elegant and modern design that has more than stood the test of time. The gentle scoop neck and long, fitted sleeves melt into a waisted bodice that leads to a slightly flared skirt with integrated train of just over six and a half feet. The train and skirt flow out together to create a fluid gown that works with the bride. It is made of silk crepe and tulle and it gets better with every glance.
This was very much a dress to suit its wearer but which added a new template to the idea of royal weddings dresses. The endless soft pleating on the skirt and train are echoed in the romantic veil which was held in place at the top of Mette-Marit's updo allowing the diamond tiara given to her by her new in laws, the King and Queen of Norway, to sparkle in the summer sunshine. The veil was almost twenty feet long and shimmered way beyond the end of the train - another modern twist on a royal wedding tradition and one that worked to create a dreamlike effect and add the finishing touches to this clever creation.
Mette-Marit's popularity has continued to rise ever since her wedding and now she is well established as a member of Norway's Royal Family with an international reputation for work in fields including HIV/AIDS prevention and literacy. On her wedding day, the Bishop of Oslo told her that 'you have not chosen the easiest path, but love has triumphed'. And the wedding dress chosen by the Crown Princess of Norway adds another romantic element to her fairytale love story.