King Harald V and Queen Sonja celebrate 30 years on the Norwegian throne on Sunday, 17 January 2020.

King Harald V and Queen Sonja at Kongsseteren, Easter 2020. Photo: Sven Gj Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court.

King Olav V Passing

King Olav V had suffered a stroke in May 1990 and had recovered during the Christmas season, whilst Crown Prince Harald carried out official duties as Regent.

Olav V of Norway, 1957. Photo: The Royal House of Norway

However, Crown Prince Harald stepped in to broadcast the annual New Year Speech on 31 December 1990.

King Olav died from a heart attack at 10.20 pm on 17 January 1991 at Kongsseteren (the Royal Lodge), near Oslo, whilst watching news coverage of the Gulf War which had just broken out.

The new King, Harald V, made the official announcement of King Olav’s passing during an extraordinary Council of State at midnight.

According to Norway Today, King Harald later said, in the NRK documentary marking his Silver Jubilee in 2016, that his father was the first victim of the Gulf War.

King Harald added that King Olav was convinced that World War III had broken out and didn’t want to be part of it.

At the time, King Olav was the world’s oldest monarch.

Since then, a few monarchs, including King Olav’s cousin Queen Elizabeth II, have overtaken this record.

Meanwhile, thousands flocked to the Palace Square to lay flowers and candles to show support for the Royal Family and to pay their respects to the late King.

The flowers and candles remained in the Park until after King Olav’s funeral on 30 January 1991.

King Olav was laid to rest next his wife Märtha in the Royal Mausoleum.

Harald’s First Speech as King

King Harald addressed the Norwegian people the following morning, on 18 January, in his first speech on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

‘Dear compatriots, His Majesty King Olav has passed away. A great loss and a deep sorrow has befallen us all.

‘In this difficult time, it gives me and my family strength to know that the entire Norwegian people together share with us the grief of my death father’s death.’

Video: YouTube/The Royal Court of Norway/NTB Archive (Norwegian)

Harald V was proclaimed king and swore an oath in the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) on 21 January 1991 to uphold the constitution, with Queen Sonja present. The new Queen appeared in the main chamber for the first time in 69 years.

‘I solemnly swear to reign in the Kingdom of Norway in accordance with its Constitution and laws, so help me Almighty God.’

The new King adopted the motto, ‘We give our all for Norway’, which had been used by his father and grandfather King Haakon VII.

Consecration in Nidaros Cathedral

The King and the Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991, in a traditional ceremony dating back more than 1,000 years.

It was previously carried out during the coronation of a new monarch.

However, King Olav V replaced the Coronation service with a consecration service in 1958.

King Harald and Queen Sonja have continued this tradition with Bishop Finn Wagle presiding over their ceremony.

After the consecration, King Harald and Queen Sonja went on a tour of Southern Norway for ten days – a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.

Later that year, King and the Queen spent 22 days travelling to four northern counties.

King Harald V and Queen Sonja, 22 January 2011. Photo: Sølve Sundsbø, The Royal Court.

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