It was exactly 115 years on Wednesday, 18 November 2020, when King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway’s reign first began.

King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav and Queen Maud, on 17 July 1913 in Norway. Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

At the time, Norway had no foreign service missions and was subject to Sweden regarding their foreign policies.

A new sense of national identity was emerging as many felt Norway was the lesser partner in the union and wanted to become a free and independent nation.

The Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) decided to establish a Norwegian consular service but King Oscar II refused to sanction it, so the government resigned.

The Storting passed a resolution on 7 June 1905 to dissolve the union with Sweden.

King Oscar II renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne but continued to rule Sweden until his death on 8 December 1907.

King Oscar II of Sweden Oscar II of Sweden (1829 – 1907) renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne. Photo: Lars Larsson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Prince Carl of Denmark

The Storting chose Prince Carl of Denmark, the second son of King Frederik VIII and Louise of Sweden, and King Christian X’s younger brother.

He was born on 3 August 1872 at Charlottenlund Palace near Copenhagen.

Prince Carl began training as a naval officer in 1886, worked his way up the ranks like all the other cadets, with no special privileges, and graduated in 1893, as a sublieutenant in the Royal Danish Navy.

He was soon promoted to first lieutenant and eventually appointed as Admiral on 20 November 1905.

He married Princess Maud of Wales, the daughter of the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of Great Britain.

Their son, Alexander, was born on 2 July 1903, already ensuring the succession for the monarchy.

Prince Carl was Scandinavian so he was already familiar with the Norwegian language and culture.

Marriage of Princess Maud of Wales and Prince Carl of Denmark
The wedding ceremony of Princess Maud and Prince Carl at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Laurits Tuxen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Constitutional Monarchy

A plebiscite was held after Prince Carl insisted the matter whether Norway should remain a monarchy or become a republic, to be resolved by the people.

A clear majority (79%) voted in favour of the monarchy and on 18 November 1905, the President of the Storting sent Prince Carl a telegram formally offering him the crown. Prince Carl accepted.

Prince Carl took the name Haakon and his son became Prince Olav – names of Norwegian kings dating back to the Middle Ages.

Norway’s new Royal Family left Denmark aboard the royal yacht Dannebrog and sailed to Oscarsborg Fortress in Oslo Fjord through thick fog and heavy snow.

They boarded the Norwegian naval ship Neimdal and arrived, three days later, in Oslo on 25 November 1905.

Cannons were fired and church bells rang to celebrate Norway’s new royal family.

Prime Minister Christian Michelsen had welcomed the new king saying ‘it has been nearly 600 years since the Norwegian people had a king of their own’ as they had to share the monarch, who ‘never made his home among us’, with others.

King Haakon swore an oath of allegiance to the constitution on 27 November 1906 and made every effort to fulfil his role as monarch.

Whilst he left the political power in the hands of democratically elected representatives, he wished to be closely informed about political matters.

King Haakon was careful to remain above politics, similar to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, not showing favour to any political party.

On those occasions when King Haakon expressed his views on certain issues, he always deferred to the majority in the Council of State and unfailing supported policy decisions.

Coronation at Nidros Cathedral

King Haakon adopted the motto, ‘Alt for Norge’, meaning, ‘We give our all for Norway’.

The coronation of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway on 22 June 1906

Bishop Vilhelm Andreas Wexelsen of Nidaros and Bishop Anton Christian Bang of Oslo performed the ceremony as King Haakon VII and Queen Maud were crowned in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 22 June 1906.

They had travelled by train, horse and carriage and ship, during their Coronation journey to meet their new subjects – a Norwegian tradition dating back to medieval times.

King Haakon died on 21 September 1957, aged 85, after reigning for nearly 52 years.

Thousands lined the streets as King Haakon’s funeral cortege passed by as Norwegians regarded as one of the country’s great leaders during the pre-war period.

King Haakon had become a symbol of the Norwegian Resistance after he refused the Germans demands, after they invaded, to appoint Nazi sympathiser Vidkun Quisling as Prime Minister.

King Haakon VII Funeral 1 October 1957
Funeral procession of King Haakon VII with King Olav V and Crown Prince Harald at the front

The movie, The King’s Choice (Kongens nei) tells the story of the German invasion and Haakon VII’s refusal to appoint a government headed by Nazi sympathiser, Vidkun Quisling.

He was buried in the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle on 1 October, alongside Queen Maud who died on 20 November 1938 during a visit to England.

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