Harald V
King of Norway
Reign 17 January 1991 – present
(&000000000000002900000029 years, &0000000000000141000000141 days)
Consecration 23 June 1991(1991-06-23) (aged 54)
Predecessor Olav V
Heir apparent Crown Prince Haakon
Born 21 February 1937 (age 83)
Skaugum, Norway
Spouse Sonja Haraldsen (m. 1968)
Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
House Glücksburg
Father Olav V of Norway
Mother Princess Märtha of Sweden
Signature Harald V of Norway Signature.svg.png
Religion Church of Norway
Norwegian Royal Family
Royal Arms of Norway.svg

HM The King*
HM The Queen*

HH Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner

*Member of the Norwegian Royal House

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Harald V (born 21 February 1937) is the King of Norway. He succeeded to the throne of Norway upon the death of his father Olav V on 17 January 1991. Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father.

A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, originally from Northern Germany, Harald became the first Norwegian-born prince since Olav IV, who was born in 1370. Harald V is the formal head of the Church of Norway and the Norwegian Armed Forces. He is 8th in the line of succession to the headship of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.

Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, their relationship having initially being controversial due to her status as a commoner. The couple had two children, Märtha Louise and Haakon. Harald succeeded his father as king in 1991, with Haakon becoming his heir apparent.

Early lifeEdit

Birth Edit

Prince Harald was born in Skaugum. The young prince was baptised in the Royal Chapel in the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March by Bishop Johan Lunde.

His godparents were: his paternal grandparents King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway; his maternal grandparents Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden; King Leopold III of Belgium; Queen Mary and King George VI of the United Kingdom; and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark.

Harald has two older sisters: Princess Ragnhild of Norway, Mrs. Lorentzen, (Ragnhild Alexandra, born Oslo, 9 June 1930), who lives in Brazil, and Princess Astrid of Norway, Mrs. Ferner, (Astrid Maud Ingeborg, born Oslo, 12 February 1932), who lives in Oslo.

Second World War Edit

In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee their homes because of the German invasion. The dramatic journey northbound was marked by the Germans' repeated attempts to kill the King through bombing. It was deemed safer for the family to split up. The King and Crown Prince Olav would remain in Norway and the Crown Princess was to make her way to Sweden with the three children. The latter party reached Sweden on the night of 10 April, but although Crown Princess Märtha was Swedish-born, they encountered problems at the border station. According to Princess Astrid and others who were present, they were admitted only after the driver threatened to ram the border gate. Another account does not describe the escape so dramatically. However when the King and Crown Prince inquired of Swedish foreign minister Christian Günther whether they could sleep one night in Sweden without being interned, they were denied.

Prince Harald spent the following days in Sälen before relocating to Prince Carl Bernadotte's home in Frötuna on 16 April. On 26 April the group moved to Drottningholm in Stockholm. Accounts tell us that King Gustaf V had an amicable relationship with his Norwegian guests, but the topic of the war in Norway was not to be raised. However, influential Swedish politicians including Minster of Justice Westman wanted the Crown Princess and Prince Harald to be sent back to Norway so he could be proclaimed King by the Germans.[1] After the King and Crown Prince had to leave Norway on 7 June they felt Sweden might not be the best place for the rest of the family. They started planning for them to be relocated to the USA. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the USA from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the ship American Legion.

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C.,[2] during the war, while his father, Prince Olav, and his grandfather, King Haakon, stayed in London with the Norwegian government-in-exile. One of the notable events he remembers from that time is standing behind Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was sworn in for his fourth term on the South Portico of the White House in 1945. Such childhood experiences are reflected in a trace of an American accent when he speaks English.[3] The Doris Kearns Goodwin book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Home Front in World War II contains a picture of the King (then Prince) playing with FDR's dog, Fala, on the North Lawn of the White House in 1944.

Harald visited Norwegian servicemen training in the United States. The prince also made visits outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegian personnel at the training base "Little Norway" in Ontario, Canada. He attended The White Hall Country School from 1943. Prince Harald returned to Norway along with his family at the war's end in 1945.

Return Edit

In the autumn of 1945 he was enrolled in third grade of Smestad skole as the first royal to attend a public school. Amidst this, in 1954 tragedy struck as he lost his mother to cancer. The Crown Princess's death was a tremendous loss for him and his family as well as for Norway, and he named his daughter Märtha in honour her memory. Four years later in 1958 he would lose his maternal grandmother Princess Ingeborg of Denmark.

Crown prince Edit

In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. He later attended the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrollment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959. Harald attended the Council of State for the first time on 27 September 1957 and took the oath to the Constitution of Norway on 21 February 1958. In the same year, he also served as regent in the King's absence for the first time.

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[3] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford and was taught to row by fellow student and friend Nick Bevan, later a leading British school rowing coach. In 1960, he also made his first official journey abroad, visiting the United States in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the American Scandinavian Foundation.

An avid sailor,[4] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964,[5] Mexico City in 1968, and Munich in 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics.


Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 1968, a marriage that sparked much public controversy. The pair had dated for nine years and were only allowed to marry when Harald gave his father the ultimatum that if he was not allowed to marry Sonja he would not marry at all, which would have ended the reign of his family and the Norwegian monarchy, as Harald was the sole heir to the throne.

The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.


On the death of his father on 17 January 1991, Harald succeeded automatically to the Norwegian throne. He became the first Norwegian-born monarch since Magnus VII abdicated in 1343, a gap of 648 years. Harald is the sixth King of Norway to bear that name, and the first in 855 years. The five other kings who have borne the name are Harald FairhairHarald GreycloakHarald BluetoothHarald Hardrada, and Harald Gille. Harald Bluetooth is usually not given a number in the Norwegian list of kings, therefore Harald is 'only' numbered as Harald V.

King Harald made the decision to use his grandfather's royal motto, "Alt for Norge". The King also chose to continue the tradition of royal benediction, a tradition that had been introduced with his father, and was consecrated together with Queen Sonja in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.[6]

The reign of King Harald has been marked by modernization and reform for the Norwegian Royal family. The King has cooperated closely with Queen Sonja and the Crown Prince in making the royal household more open to the Norwegian public and the Norwegian media. King Harald's decision to accept two more commoners into the royal family, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Ari Behn, has been interpreted as a sign of modernization and adjustment.[7][8] Under King Harald and Queen Sonja's leadership, comprehensive renovation projects on the Bygdøy Royal Estate, the Royal Palace, the royal stables and Oscarshall have also taken place. The latter three have also been opened to the public and tourists.[9] Together with Queen Sonja, the king has also for decades attempted to establish a palace museum in Oslo.[10][11]


His Majesty King Harald is the patron of:[12]

  • The Anglo-Norse Society
  • Bergen International Festival
  • The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Friends of the Earth Norway/Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature
  • Lions Clubs International – Norway
  • Det Nasjonale Aldershjem for Sjømenn (“The Norwegian Seamen’s Retirement Home”)
  • Nasjonalforeningen for folkehelsen (“The National Association for Public Health”)
  • The National Rifle Association of Norway
  • Norges Militære Kameratforeningers Forbund (“The Norwegian Federation of Military Associations”)
  • Norges Orlogsforbund (The Norwegian Federation)
  • The Norse Federation
  • Norsk Anchorite Klubb (“The Norwegian Anchorite Club”)
  • The Norway-America Association
  • Norway House, the National Norwegian Center in America
  • The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences
  • The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers
  • The Norwegian Association of UN Veterans
  • The Norwegian Bible Society
  • The Norwegian Cancer Society
  • The Norwegian Forestry Society
  • The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports
  • The Norwegian Reserve Officers’ Federation
  • The Norwegian Seamen’s Church – Church of Norway Abroad
  • Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research
  • The Norwegian Society for Sea RescueThe Offshore Northern Seas Foundation
  • The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters
  • The Sons of Norway Foundation
  • The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Skogfjorden, the Norwegian language program of Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji, Minnesota
  • Oslo Militære Samfund

Health Edit

On 1 December 2003, King Harald was announced to be suffering from bladder cancer. A successful operation took place on 8 December at Norway's National Hospital, Rikshospitalet, in Oslo: his bladder was removed and a new one constructed. The King was then on sick leave from all official duties. Crown Prince Haakon was Norway's regent during King Harald's illness and convalescence. The King resumed his duties on 13 April 2004.

The King was once known to be a chain-smoker, but quit that habit entirely when he was diagnosed with cancer.

On 1 April 2005, Harald underwent successful heart surgery, an aortic valve replacement, correcting his aortic stenosis. It had been known for some time that he had this condition; however, until early 2005 it had only been of a moderate degree. During the three-hour operation at Rikshospitalet the doctors also performed a coronary bypass procedure on the King. On 10 April, it was announced that the King had also undergone a pericardiocentesis to treat a complication of surgery, a pericardial effusion (an accumulation of fluid around the heart).

After the two operations in the spring of 2005, King Harald remained on sick leave for almost two months, Crown Prince Haakon again substituting as the country's regent. The King returned to work on 7 June, a date which carried particular significance in 2005, with Norway celebrating the centennial of the dissolution of the 1814–1905 union with Sweden. The King recuperated well enough to win the European Championships in ocean sailing just three months after his latest operation.

Following advice from his personal physician, King Harald finally decided in late 2005 to scale down his official duties, primarily effected by taking Wednesdays off and trying to keep weekends free as much as possible. However, he planned to continue attending weekend sports events of interest, and to lead Friday Cabinet meetings and carry out other constitutional duties.

Issue Edit

Sonja and Harald have two children and six grandchildren:

Titles, styles and honorsEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 21 February 1937 – 21 September 1957: His Royal Highness Prince Harald of Norway
  • 21 September 1957 – 17 January 1991: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway
  • 17 January 1991 – present: His Majesty The King of Norway

Other honorsEdit

Commonwealth Realms:
  • Freedom of the City of Cork
South Africa:
United Kingdom:
  • Honorary Freedom of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Spirit of Luther Award, awarded by Luther College of Decorah, IA

A 230 000 km² area in Antarctica is named Prince Harald Coast in his honour.

In 2007 King Harald was awarded the Holmenkollen medal with Simon Ammann, Frode Estil, Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, and his wife Queen Sonja.

References Edit

  1. Kidnapper Foiled?. Time
  2. Non-Political Campaign. Time Magazine
  3. 3.0 3.1 Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne. New York Times
  4. Victory by Design. Time Magazine
  5. People: Jun. 26, 1964. TIME
  6. The Consecration of King Harald and Queen Sonja. Norwegian Royal Court
  7. Å si at vi ikke er åpne, er rett og slett feil. NRK
  8. Stanghelle: "Kong Harald står frem som mannen som forstår sin egen tid". Aftenposten
  9. The Royal Palace is open to the public. Norwegian Royal Court
  10. Kongehusekspert Kjell Arne Totland skriver: Gi kongeparet et permanent slottsmuseum. Aftenposten
  11. På tide med et slottsmuseum. NRK
  12. Organisations under the patronage of HM The King. Norwegian Royal Court

External linksEdit

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