King Olav V of Norway was consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral on 22 June 1958, on the 52nd anniversary of his parents’ Coronation.
He ascended the throne when his father, King Haakon VII, died on 21 September 1957, aged 85, after suffering poor health for two years.
However, the Article in Norway’s constitution, drawn up in 1814, stated that the King must be crowned in Nidaros Cathedral.
By 1908, the Storting (Parliament) had repealed the Article as many regarded coronations as ‘undemocratic’.
No plans for a ceremony of a new monarch were in place following King Haakon’s death, except for swearing the oath of allegiance in the Storting.
King Olav was keen to maintain traditions in Norway, after studying his country’s history, so he expressed a personal desire to be consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral to receive God’s blessing on his reign.
He played an active role in organising the ceremony and laid down the foundations for continuing this tradition, with origins dating back to the Øreting assembly and Norwegian kings’ coronations from 1163 to 1906.
However, King Olav faced opposition from government ministers who were keen to downplay the event but he persisted, motivated by his religious commitment and belief. He wanted to receive the Church’s blessings in a national ceremony that would mark the solemn bond between the monarch and his people.
Initially, only three people from the Storting would attend but until the Bishop Arne Fjellbu of Nidaros wrote to all the representatives that seating would be reserved in the Cathedral for those who wished to attend.
Soon, most of the representatives had accepted and the ceremony became a major national event.
Bishop Arne Fjellbu and Bishop Johannes Smemo of Oslo jointly performed the consecration ceremony.
King Olav seated himself on the coronation throne, dating back to 1818.
He knelt before the high altar, after the sermon, as Bishop Fjellbu recited the consecration prayer in which he asked for God’s blessing on the King and his royal office.
King Olav always recalled the consecration as the highlight of his life – the occasion when he entered into a solemn covenant with the Norwegian people that could be broken only by his death.
The Consecration ceremony was broadcasted live on radio and television.
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