Ok, I shamefully admit it. I never saw the Royal Wedding. I did follow it online in the early hours from a backstreet motel in San Francisco, vacationing across the Atlantic rather that joining the thousands on the streets of Stockholm.
So this week I went to relive some of the revelry on a guided tour of the 13th century Stockholm Cathedral where the ceremony took place.
They say you’re never a tourist in your own town, right? Another confession awaits: after eight years living in the Swedish capital, I’ve never stepped foot inside this church, which has staged six royal weddings over time.
We started by following what was a red carpet train from the Royal Palace, in the footsteps of the 1,250 guests that attending the nuptials.
And if you have that many friends, this church comes complete with a real wow factor for weddings. The stunning 17th century ebony and silver altar is just for starters. To the left is an imposing sculpture of St. George and the Dragon, consecrated in 1489 and made from oak and elk antlers.
Not forgetting the Parhelion Painting, said to be the first painting of Stockholm produced during the 15th century. That is until it was discovered it’s only a copy from the 1630s, but apparantly that’s old enough to still excite American tourists.
The good news is you need not be Nobel to wed in these magnificent surroundings. “Anyone can get married here,” guide Per Haukaas told us. “Even if you’re Greek Orthodox.”
I’m not. But in good faith that this could be on my list of venues, I walked down the aisle – the scene of what the Swedish media dubbed ‘Altargate.’
It relates to the furore that exploded when Crown Princess Victoria announced her father would be giving her away. In Sweden, the bride and groom usually enter the church together as a couple and leave arm-in-arm as man and wife.
For a young and thoroughly modern princess, commentators and even the Swedish church viewed it as sacrilege to revert back to a tradition that contradicts Sweden’s image as an equality-driven state.
In the end, a compromise was reached half way – literally – as the King handed over his daughter’s hand to Daniel Westling, with 20 or so meters left to go.
As you wander around this beautiful church, taking in the history over centuries, there’s a case for traditions to be kept intact.
Speaking as a advocate of feminist issues, I still believe Sweden went too far. Surely, a woman’s right is at its most prevalent on her big day, regardless of whether you’re Royal, Greek Orthodox or not.