King Harald V of Norway celebrates another milestone with his 80th birthday on Tuesday, 21 February 2017, but he has no plans to abdicate.

His Majesty The King. Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs/Det kongelige hoff

According to a report in Norway Today, King Harald and Queen Sonja are spending their winter holidays with family, including their grandchildren in an undisclosed location.

Only Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s son Marius Borg Høiby, who is studying in the US, and Princess Märtha Louise’s estranged husband, Ari Behn, were absent.

Well-wishers who are unable to visit the Royal Palace between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm (local time) can leave a message via the Norwegian Royal Family’s website. This portal will close at midnight (local time).

See new photos of the Norwegian Royal Family to mark this occasion.

The Norwegian Government will be hosting an official birthday celebration on 10 May for King Harald and Queen Sonja, whose 80th birthday falls on 4 July.

Early Life

King Harald V was born at Skaugum on 21 February 1937, the first prince born in Norway in 567 years. He is the only son and youngest child of Crown Prince Olav (later Olav V) and Crown Princess Märtha of Sweden.

He has two older sisters, Princess Ragnhild (born 1930) and Princess Astrid (born in 1932).

At the time of his birth, the Norwegian Constitution of 1814 stipulated that only male heirs could inherit the Throne, so there must have been a huge sigh of relief when Prince Harald’s birth guaranteed the line of succession.

World War II

KIng Harald as a child, taken during World War II.

However, the Royal Family, whose story was retold in the recent film, Kongens Nei, were forced into exile when German troops invaded Norway in 1940. The Royal Family, the Government and most members of the Storting (Parliament) fled from Oslo after boarding a train.

Crown Princess Martha and the three children, Princess Ragnhild, Princess Astrid and Prince Harald, parted company from King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav before they fled across the border to safety in Sweden to avoid capture by the Nazis.

They stayed with his mother’s family for several months, before traveling to the United States after receiving an invitation from President Franklin D Roosevelt. They lived in Washington DC, where the Crown Princess worked hard to promote Norwegian interests, involving official visits, giving lectures and speeches, sending relief aid and involved in relief operations to help refugees.

Meanwhile, King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav, and government officials made their way to London where they set up the government in exile, and to lead the resistance effort.

King Haakon’s radio broadcasts from London via the BBC World Service served as a source for inspiration for the people to fight for a free and independent Norway.

The Royal Family returned home in 1945, after liberation on 7 June, where they were warmly welcomed home by thousands of cheering people in the streets, after five years of Nazi occupation.

The Royal Family of Norway waving to the welcoming crowds from HMS Norfolk at Oslo.

Crown Prince Olav returned to Norway on 13 May 1945, where he was joined by King Haakon and the other members of the Royal Family on 7 June. Thousands lining the streets cheered the Royal Family to welcome them home after five years of Nazi occupation.

Crown Prince

After the war, Prince Harald attended the public school Smestad Skole in Oslo, before completing his high school education at Oslo Cathedral School, where he received his school-leaving certificate in 1955.

He entered the Norwegian Cavalry Officer’s Training School, finished his military education at the Military Academy in 1959 before attending Balliol College in Oxford to study social science, history and economics from 1960 to 1962.

King Haakon died in 1957, so Prince Harald became the Crown Prince when his father Olav V ascended the throne.


The Crown Prince met Sonja Haraldsen in 1959 at a dinner party and caused controversy because he wanted to marry “a girl of the people”, rather than one of several eligible princesses at the time.

After all, marrying a commoner could have implications for the monarchy’s future.

Crown Prince Harald dug his heels in and said if he could not marry Sonja, he would remain unmarried, which would really put the monarchy at risk.

However, the Crown Prince still had to wait nine years before King Olav approved the marriage, after some consultation with the government.

So Crown Prince Harald and Sonja Haraldsen were finally married in Oslo Cathedral on 29 August 1968, with 850 guests attending the wedding ceremony.

The newly-weds were met by cheering, jubilant crowds when they emerged from the Cathedral, as a 21-gun salute was fired from Akershus Fortress, with celebrations lasting three days.

The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise (born 22 September 1971) and Crown Prince Haakon (born 20 July 1973).


King Olav died passed away on 17 January 1991, after suffering a heart attack, whilst watching the news about the Gulf War on television.

Four days later, with Queen Sonja present, the new King swore an oath to uphold the Constitution during a ceremony at the Storting. This was a first in 69 years that a Norwegian queen had been present in the Storting’s main chamber.

He adopted the motto, “We give our all for Norway.”

Source: Det kongelige hoff

King Harald and Queen Sonja were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991 in a ceremony which dates back over 1,000 years, to receive God’s blessing when carrying our their official duties.

Norway is a constitutional monarchy, so King Harald’s duties are mainly ceremonial but he holds executive power, but the government runs the country. King Harald is consulted during changes of government and appointment of new Prime Ministers.

King Harald heads the Council of State on Fridays, and he opens the new session of the Storting ever year in October.

However, Acts of legislation or decisions are valid until they are signed by King Harald and countersigned by Prime Minister.

The King also holds regular audiences at the Royal Palace in Oslo with representatives from Norway’s armed forces and newly-appointed ambassadors from foreign countries.

The King and the Queen also visits various municipalities in a different country each year for 2 to 3 days, and use the Royal Yacht Norge if they are travelling along the coast.

King Harald is also the formal head of the Church of Norway and the nation’s highest-ranking officer as the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces. He also holds the rank of General in the Army and Air Force, and of Admiral in the Navy.

The King also represents Norway during official and state visits to other countries, including Australia, and acts as host to visiting foreign heads of state.

He was the first reigning Norwegian monarch to visit Antarctica, including Queen Maud Land, in 2015.

However, Crown Prince Haakon served as Regent twice at the beginning of the century when King Harald was unable to carry out his official duties due to illness, including urinary bladder cancer and aortic stenosis.

King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their Silver Jubilee in 2016 with numerous events throughout the country, including an anniversary service at Trondheim Cathedral.

The Sailor King

King Harald is a keen sailor, as he learnt to row during his time at Oxford University. He has represented Norway in yachting events including the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympic Games. He carried the flag during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964.

He has participated in other international sailing events, including the World Championships and European Championships.

The King was actively involved in the Lillehammer Olympic Games in 1994, as the honorary chair of the Organising Committee, and opened the Games during the Opening Ceremony with Crown Prince Haakon lighting the cauldron paying tribute to his grandfather who competed in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

King Harald has represented Norway at various Opening Ceremonies at Olympic Games except Vancouver in 2010.

Royal Relatives

King Harald is related to Britain’s Royal Family as his grandmother, Queen Maud, was King George V’s sister, and one of Queen Victoria’s many descendants. He is also related to Denmark’s Queen Margrethe through his great-grandmother Queen Alexandra, Edward VII’s consort, and his paternal grandmother, Ingeborg of Denmark. He is related to King Carl XVI Gustaf through his mother Crown Princess Märtha. Other relatives include Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.

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