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Dismay after Victoria asks to be given away

Dismay after Victoria asks to be given away

Published: 20 May 2010 19:23 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 May 2010 19:23 GMT+02:00

A split has opened up between the Church of Sweden and the royal family over Crown Princess Victoria’s wish to be ‘given away’ by her father, King Carl Gustaf, at her marriage to Daniel Westling next month.

In Swedish tradition, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, but Victoria plans to follow the Anglo-Saxon tradition of walking down the aisle with her father at her side. The church, which views the practice as a foreign anachronism with sexist overtones, fears Victoria’s decision will lead to an unwelcome new trend.

The head of the Swedish church, Archbishop Anders Wejryd, who will be conducting the marriage, has taken the unusual step of making his disapproval clear in a public statement:

“Being given away 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 know where I stand on this matter.”

Priest and theologian Annika Borg says that while about one in ten Swedish brides is now given away, the practice is un-Swedish and has been imported by American films and television series.

“I think it’s unfortunate that Sweden’s future head of state has chosen to follow a practice that is not Swedish tradition. The idea of the couple entering the church together symbolizes that the man and the woman are entering the marriage of their own free will,” she said.

Victoria’s decision could strengthen the trend among Swedish brides, Borg fears:

“We’ve got a carefully worked-out position on this matter in the Swedish church, and in the future it is going to be very hard for us to resist requests from brides who want to be given away.”

When King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia married in 1973 they followed Swedish tradition and walked down the aisle together. However, the king's sister Princess Margaretha was given away by her grandfather, Gustav VI Adolf, when she married Englishman John Ambler in Stockholm in 1964.

Nina Eldh, spokeswoman for the Royal Court, underlined that the decision was up to Victoria. The marriage of the heir to the throne has an extra element, she added:

“This has a bigger dimension - this isn’t a father giving away his daughter to another man. The symbolism is that the king is leading the heir to the nation’s throne to the altar - and to the man who has been accepted."

But historian Dick Harrison from Lund University dismisses the idea that being given away has any significant royal pedigree in Sweden:

“By far the most common practice in Sweden is that the couple walk to the altar together. But then if you are looking at royal tradition, the normal situation would be for her to have married a foreign prince - and in previous centuries that would have meant two marriages in two different countries.”

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:18 May 20, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
The Archbishop Anders Wejryd should keep mum and be thankful of all those tax payers krones he receives from non-believers. Where 72% of the country are taxed as church goers but only 5% are regular attendees, he ought to take note of who is paying the piper.

In any other country he would rely on the collection plate.
20:18 May 20, 2010 by xykat
When she becomes Queen it will be a sad day because her father would have passed away. I am sure that she is honoring her father in the best way she can. And probably even appreciating all the time she has with him. Plus he is helping to pay for the wedding for god sakes.

C'mon people. Sweden is like America its been made up of foreigners for a very long time. If we want to argue about traditions then why don't Swedes eat pancakes with lingon/cranberries anymore? Swedish Americans from Minnesota do!

I don't think its sexist at all. But what does a girl like me do if her father has passed away? Maybe ask a family member.

I am happy she has adopted a very "American" tradition. More power to her!

I wish her all the best.
20:31 May 20, 2010 by Thrombo
I find it hard to understand why it should be viewed a sexist because this girl wants her father to give her away, It is her wedding, she may be a princess but she is also a person.
20:45 May 20, 2010 by teslar
I agree with Thrombo. "Sexist" seems to have become a very generic accusation that you can throw at anything in the absence of more substantiated arguments against it.

Also this equality thing can be pushed too far... why not just take it to the logical extreme and require the entire population to become androgynous since choosing to keep either balls or boobs and refuse the other is clearly extremely sexist too?
20:54 May 20, 2010 by voiceofreason
A wedding ceremony is meaningless without the involvement of the families, a simple contract on paper signed in the presence of a witness will do and then you can consumate the contract.

If its wrong for a father to walk her daughter down the aisle, why invite him anyway.

It is symbolic to walk a daughter down the aisle in a wedding, it connotes trust and consent. It means you have someone to hold her accountable to.

If you marry a lady without the parents consent, then be prepared to deal with her alone when issues arise.
21:59 May 20, 2010 by Rebel
Does anyone, Christian or non.Christian alike, take the Church of Sweden seriously anymore? It fell into irrelevancy years ago.
22:00 May 20, 2010 by blursd
Well, isn't the House of Bernadotte ... French ...
22:16 May 20, 2010 by C Ball
The Church of Sweden is totally confused about equality! What is equal about Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the Crown of Sweden versus her husband-to-be who is a commoner?

Miss Bernadotte has TITLE, MONEY,and PRESTIGE over her husband's what?

When Sweden removes their so-called monarchy, they will have joined the rest of the lower EU countries and the United States. Until then, who cares? Swedes are always confused and always way behind the rest of the world anyway. THEY just think they are above and beyond the rest of us! It's Ms. Victoria's wedding and she should do exactly as she pleases. King Bernadotte will surely be pleased and proud to walk his eldest child down the aisle. Grattis till C.P. Victoria and her financé.
22:29 May 20, 2010 by mjennin2
"...and in the future it is going to be very hard for us to resist requests from brides who want to be given away."

GOD FORBID a woman wants to still get married in a church, and has a request in how she desires to perform her wedding. This Archbishop is a moron. Brides/grooms are paying the church to perform their wedding, so they should oblige the bride/groom in their requests for how the trivial/peripheral details play out.

I understand this is alien to Sweden, and perhaps the Princess should stick to purely swedish tradition, however why must it be viewed as sexism? I agree with teslar. What if Vic is just paying tribute to her father and acknowledging who he is in her life? A symbol that he is "passing the baton" of the crown from his hands, down to that of the heirs?

In any event, considering as how it seems the majority of Sweden doesn't care much for the monarchy anyway, I highly doubt brides will be rushing to copy Victoria in her choice to be led down the aisle.
23:09 May 20, 2010 by Dr. Dillner
It is her wedding, let her do what she wants.
23:24 May 20, 2010 by Will Hart
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in "tradition" that we tend to forget the desires and feelings of others whether it be royalty or commoner. This IS Victoria's wedding!!
00:58 May 21, 2010 by Mr Gee
"The church, which views the practice as a foreign anachronism with sexist overtones...".

Oh dear, the church has got its knickers in a twist again! And for how long has the church not been a sexist organisation?

Anyway, it's totally a non-story. It's not important whether the father accompanies the bride or not. What is important is the couple do what feels is best for them.

The church should start thinking about adapting itself. Clearly they're not busy thinking about or acting on more important issues. It's time for the church to see the light!
01:08 May 21, 2010 by Toonie
A father walking a daughter down the aisle is entirely pragmatic. He makes sure she goes through with it, and she knows exactly where he is at all times. If he's right on her shoulder he can't be making mischief elsewhere.
01:15 May 21, 2010 by repat_xpat
Love that massive chin.
02:26 May 21, 2010 by Luke35711
Fox News would love this one ;))
07:26 May 21, 2010 by karex
@teslar

Loved your comment!

@will hart

I think you hit the nail on the head: this is Victoria's wedding. Hopefully a unique even in her lifetime. She should be given the right to do what she wants.

If the Church of Sweden wants to dictate how people should act (I thought that church and state were split a long time ago), then who needs to get married in a church anymore?
08:51 May 21, 2010 by shame, shame
The "tradition" symbolizes the transfer of a woman from one man to another, one keeper to another - just listen to the text of the Anglo-Saxon ceremony.

It doesn't HAVE to be sexist as such - clearly Victoria in this case has chosen her husband and let's face it is hardly HIM that will be HER keeper - but the antiquated symbolism of the woman being owned by a man, be it her father or her husband, remains and is sadly resonant in many parts of the world.

Those who argue "this equality thing has gone far enough" are simply providing proof of the fact that many feel that one party reserves agency. Equality is about the genuine freedom to choose, or become, different, it is not about us all choosing, or becoming, the same thing.
08:55 May 21, 2010 by unforgiven
So this is what makes news in Thelocal.se....ohh...my God!!!
08:57 May 21, 2010 by peropaco
The church of Sweden is such a useless broken down institution run by a bunch of decrepit alcoholics. Last year I attended a wedding and the pastor or priest suggested that everyone with young kids should take them outside because they make 2 much noise.
09:18 May 21, 2010 by Åskar
If they decide to get married in a church they have to do it the way the church wants it. It's as simple as that.
09:19 May 21, 2010 by karex
@shame, shame

I think that you are correct concerning the original meaning behind the act of "giving away". But this tradition has long lost the original meaning in most places. Nowadays brides want to show honor and love for their father. That's what's behind the symbolism in this day and age.

I think that your interpretation of "equality has gone far enough" is off. I think it IS all about the freedom to choose and not about supporting one party having "agency" over another, and in this case this equality IS going too far, it is trying to take away her freedom to choose. It's HER wedding. If both Victoria and Daniel agree that this is what they choose, who is anyone else to argue with them? If you don't like it, do it differently in your own wedding but leave what other wish to do alone. Live and let live, I say.
09:44 May 21, 2010 by Mr Gee
@Åskar

We may be guided by certain conventions and rituals a particular church or religion prefers but let's think about who they should be looking after - themselves or us?

We must never be slaves of a system not allowed to question or change existing behaviours.

The church serves the people - not the other way round!

Wake up Askar! Maybe you are happy to be an unquestioning slave?
10:04 May 21, 2010 by WelshSwede
They should be able to get married where & how they like.

Church is full of closet peado's anyway so how dare they determine how the ceremony should be carried out. Its their Wedding, not the Church's
10:36 May 21, 2010 by stenhuggaren
Sure the couple should choose how they want their wedding to be, who knows this may actually be the only decision Victoria & Daniel have reserved for herself - it is a royal wedding after all not a tete a tete on a Carib beach.

Would be fun if D asked his mum to hold his hand down the aisle as well, now that would be a nice way to show honour and love to his old dear.

On another, related, point affecting the freedom of young Swedes -

http://www.thelocal.se/26766/20100521/
11:23 May 21, 2010 by Åskar
@Mr Gee "Maybe you are happy to be an unquestioning slave? "

You obviously don't know me. And I continue to say, if you want to play their game stick to their rules. As for me I play elsewhere.
11:32 May 21, 2010 by Mr Gee
@Åskar

No, I don't know you.

The point I was trying to make was that no-one should blindly obey a system as the system is there to serve the people.

Also, systems usually need to adapt with changing circumstances, so anyone using the church's services should question and influence what it's doing.

So that's why I disagree with your point.

PS

I also 'play elsewhere'.
13:22 May 21, 2010 by Doreen1
Hm, isn't it funny how something "foreign" can cause such dismay in a country that puts so much store in its 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism'? After all, the burka and hijab are just as "foreign", and often seen by many as "anachronistic" and "sexist" as may 'a father giving away the bride', yet for some reason negative commentary on the former are dismissed or discouraged by the political classes. There are no agenda-driven double standards and hypocrisy going on, I'm sure.
13:38 May 21, 2010 by lil575
Lots of brides now walk down the aisle with and get given away by both parents - wonder why Victoria didn't choose that. But anyway, who cares?
13:47 May 21, 2010 by booka
The church has been telling others what to do for a very long time, you cant be suprised that this would happen.
14:25 May 21, 2010 by Kaethar
I Victoria is NOT anyone. The reason we have the monarchy is for symbolic reasons. They REPRESENT the nation of Sweden and it is HORIFFIC that they are planning to have a foreign-style wedding.

No, if they go through with this blasphemy I am officially against the monarchy since they have then stopped being representers of the Swedish nation.
14:49 May 21, 2010 by Mr Gee
@Kaethar

Oh dear, another one living in the past.

We have progresed a long way from the old days, looking up to 'superiors' and figureheads as examples of people and systems we must follow; being told how to act and what to do.

Nothing represents Sweden or any other nation more than the actual people. The figureheads are as exactly you say, 'symbolic' - but that's all.

Let's get a reality check here and just remind ourselves what the actual 'problem' is: it's the father going down the aisle instead of the groom. Wow! Wake Up!
17:46 May 21, 2010 by nrc71
ooh dear, a non-traditional swedish tradition happening at a Swedish wedding....ooh dear......wait....SHE ISN'T PURE SWEDISH so what's the big deal. Swede adopt all sorts of crap from other cultures what the problem with a ½German ½Swedish girl wanting to have her father walk her down the isle.

idiots. Let her do what she wants to do!
17:49 May 21, 2010 by SarahRF
Point one:

Being given away by your father is not sexist at all. Someone mentioned it was being passed from one man's ownership to another, but I disagree. It was about the father no longer being responsible for the daughter, having to feed and clothe her etc etc, but that responsibility was passed on to the daughter's husband to be, thus the giving away. it's the father saying he trusts the young man to do the right thing and protect and provide for his daughter. That can hardly be called sexist. That term is too loosely flung around nowadays, it's lost all power.

Point two:

If Swedes are so against Victoria's adopting this "foreign" tradition, it's just one more thing showing how xenophobic Swedes are. If you're going to be so against anything foreign, not Swedish tradition, then you should be against Halloween, trying out new foods that aren't Swedish, and any number of other things that have arrived in Sweden. You shouldn't purchase anything from Subway, American Apparel, McDonald's, Burger King, Apple, or Amazon. Swedes should also then stop incorporating English words, especially swear words, into their vocabularies.

If you look back through Swedish history, I'm absolutely 100% sure you'll find many instances where "tradition" was put aside, people grumbled, but look! The world didn't come to an end, it just went on living. Grow up Sweden, the world is changing everyday, and if you don't change too, you'll get left behind. What a sad day that will be for you.
18:05 May 21, 2010 by Hubris
I'm glad to read the majority of comments indicate people see this as a non-issue. While reading the article I was thinking how the church was being ridiculous about it. Brides cry out of happiness as they walk down the aisle on their father's arm and are 'given away'. Regardless of what the symbolism might have once meant, all that matters is that it makes the bride happy today. It's HER day, and she can ask for whatever reasonable traditions she likes.

I had to chuckle when the quote from the church suggested because of this they would have a hard time trying to force brides to not have weddings in the fashion they desire. Claiming it's sexism is just trying to hide 'not wanting to change and be modern' behind a more politically-correct face.
19:16 May 21, 2010 by Onepack
Many readers have referred to it as "her wedding". As one who has been married three times and has paid for my daughters three weddings, I wish that we men would get some say in the matter!
19:39 May 21, 2010 by Bysheon
Couldn't care less about this particular detail not being a Swedish tradition.

SaraRF said "It was about the father no longer being responsible for the daughter, having to feed and clothe her etc etc, but that responsibility was passed on to the daughter's husband to be, thus the giving away." Case in point. Either you see what is said here, or you don't. End of story.
20:12 May 21, 2010 by PeteInUSA
Just piping in from the USA.

While we have our problems here in the States, I'm glad that we dealt with our Monarchy and "Church and State" issues a long time ago!

Having been married for a number of years, I realize it does not matter that Princess Victoria is of royalty or being escorted down the aisle by her father. We all know who will be "ruling the roost," so to speak, once the marriage is completed!

I wish the happy couple well, and particularly Mr. Westling, in their future married life!
21:31 May 21, 2010 by Kevin Harris
All this fuss over money, monarchy and over-opinionated archbishops at a nice couple's wedding

They should elope to Vegas, get drunk and get hitched Brittney Spears style. I vote for an Elvis wedding, with a James Browne wedding as second choice. That would teach the archbish to a bit of repect. "Your sacked bish, we've got Elvis instead".
14:36 May 22, 2010 by lel
Kevin, I love it! Elvis, groove on...
16:26 May 22, 2010 by TheDiviner
Much ado about nothing, I'm afraid.
04:14 May 23, 2010 by PerKurowski
The idea that the women entering the church together with her father and joining his husband in front of the altar would have to mean that the man and the woman are not entering the marriage of their own free will is so plain ludicrous and silly that it makes you laugh or cry. Only utterly small minds could come up with such a thing…

I "gave" away my daughter, and would I for a moment think she was not entirely following her free wish and will I would not even entered the church… nor would she.
05:15 May 23, 2010 by meatpie
Sexist? Good Lord! The Archbishop's rationale is cold and inbred. He seems more enamored with his own ideas than concerned with what would be best for a Royal wedding in 2010.

There is tradition to consider, and tradition is important. However, the larger concern is what should be done for the Ceremony to be a warm, loving celebration that gives Victoria, Daniel, and the family the wedding they want, and also makes Sweden feel good about itself.

Absent any political power, that is the practical role (outside of political ceremony) of Monarchies today where they still exist; to make their country feel good about itself. Princess Di did that for Britain with the 'Royal Wedding', ill-fated as it was, and it will be the same with Victoria in Sweden.

I think there's a lot to be said for sticking with tradition for something as momentous as a Royal Wedding. Though I don't think the Archbishop should be mouthing off about it publicly. It is Victoria's decision. The wedding itself is not being done for the sake of tradition, more important is that it is successful and meaningful; for the couple, and for the country.
11:45 May 23, 2010 by Earandur Lissesul
I walked my youngest daughter down the aisle five years ago at her request, and I am doing the same for my eldest daughter next year also at her request. It was the proudest day of my life the first time and I am sure it will be the same for the second. It's the girls big day and her requests should be honoured. If Princess Victoria has requested the same then good luck to her. That's all I have to say on the matter
09:00 May 24, 2010 by Mr Gee
@ PerKurowski

"The idea that the women entering the church together with her father...would have to mean that the man and the woman are not entering the marriage of their own free will is so plain ludicrous and silly"

The only thing ludicrous and silly is having such a one-sided, polarised interpretation. People will have their own interpretations of this custom.
23:05 May 24, 2010 by bira
Bottom line is that it is her wedding, she should dictate what should happen, not tradition, and certainly not the Swedish Church. In typical Swedish fashion, much hullabaloo about nothing.
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